South Australian firefighters return as the third team prepares to travel to Canada

South Australian firefighters return as the third team prepares to travel to Canada

The Mzanzi One, the first team of South African firefighters to arrive in Canada in early June, flew in from Edmonton on Saturday evening and were scheduled to return to Mpumalanga on Sunday evening.

Talking to Daily Maverick Before boarding the plane for home, Trevor Abrahams, managing director of Working on Fire, confirmed that the 214 officers who had been relieved by a third party, would be leaving for Quebec in a week.

Abrahams said Alberta was on fire again and Mzansi Tu was already in the field fighting the flames.

Abrahams said the situation was favorable for a fire in part because of “transit conditions” caused by low humidity and high temperatures. means lower moisture content in the air and hotter air”Combustion conditions will become more severe“.

in Media briefing on ThursdayCanadian ministers and officials said 648 fires were still burning, with 339 “classified as burning out of control”. Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair issued the latest fire forecast, which he said: “…identifies a high probability of increased fire activity over the next two months…in July, most of Canada from British Columbia to the north, through the prairies and across the country to western Labrador, He would be in great danger.”

An breakdown of the fires burning across Canada on July 7, 2023. (photo: attached)

“As we move into August, while the total area is decreasing especially in eastern Canada, areas at risk are still expected to include western Canada, northern Ontario and western Quebec,” Blair added.

The fires displaced about 5,000 people, and some lost their homes to the fires.

Mzanzi One is back from Canada

Canada fire forecast for July 8, 2023. (photo: attached)

Conditions on the ground show an urgent need for support from South African firefighters. It will end in June. New York times It reported that, including South African firefighters, there were about 1,500 foreign firefighters in Canada – from the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Costa Rica, Chile, Spain, Portugal, France and Mexico.

However, Abraham said Daily MaverickAnd European countries They now need the firefighters back in as their fire seasons begin. The United States was not lagging behind Washington Post Reporting last week:Wildfire season in the United States has been eerily quiet. That could change soon.

Abrahams said that while there were initial indications that firefighters in South Africa were seen as cheap labour, it soon became clear that they were very good at the job. He mentioned an incident where advanced technology had been discussed and the SA team seemed likely to be left out – until a member of Mzanzi’s team gave advice and proceeded to pretend.

Women can be strong and brave

Dino Margaret Malatje is from Bela-Bela, Limpopo, and has been working as a firefighter for five years. The 27-year-old says women shouldn’t hold back and think they can’t become firefighters. Talking to Daily Maverick From Edmonton, Malatje said, “Women should do this; it teaches us to be independent as young women, and to be strong and fearless.”

I heard about my stalker work on fire (WoF) from “uncle-in-law”. She was curious, idle, and a follower; And he was accepted for training.

We were 58 people, male and female. When the training and testing took place, only eight were selected. Three women – my name was the first to call – made it. It felt so good, it was a life-changing opportunity.”

Working 14 hours a day doesn’t mean much downtime in Canada, Malatji said. But she did enjoy meeting some of the people she helped.

It has had its share of bear sightings. “One of them was very close, maybe 15 meters away, but we saw him before he saw us, so we made some noise and he kept moving,” Malatji said with a chuckle.

It’s a good thing she learned some safety because she plans to return to fighting fires in Canada at some point.

“It was a good experience to learn to deal with the new terrain. Its surface is not like South Africa. You can put out a fire and think you’ve completed the task, but then you move to another place and realize there’s still smoke where you thought you finished.”

South Africans are paid in Canadian dollars, at the same rate as Canadian firefighters. With most of her money, Malatji plans to build a house for my mom. “She deserves it.”

Great opportunity to collect more skills

Godirwamang Asiel Modise (29), Junior Superintendent and Crew Leader who joined WoF in 2014. Modise, from Potchefstroom, said one of the things he enjoys about being a firefighter is always learning new skills.

“I learn every day. There is a great opportunity to collect more skills. Every chance I get, I use it to the best of my ability.”

according to Canada StatisticsCanada’s population hit 40 million in June. More than 80% of the population lives in Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta – and all of them are currently on high fire alert. DM


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