Wildland firefighters battle mental health, labour challenges atop deadly blazes

By Tyler Griffin
The Canadian Press in the National Post
August 27, 2023
Category: Health & Safety
Region: Canada, Canada West

Two-week work cycles. Shifts that can last up to 18 hours. Sleeping in tents. Dangerous and unpredictable work environments. Those are the working conditions for many wildland firefighters across the country as Canada contends with a record wildfire season. …“There’s no question that we are seeing burnout,” said Steve Lemon, safety and well-being officer with the BC Wildfire Service. …“We’ve been engaged pretty full on since the beginning of May really, without any respite,” he said. “The length of the fire season, the intensity, the long-term drought that we’ve been experiencing, that all leads to more complex fires, bigger fires. Those will all undoubtedly have an impact on people.” That’s weighing on the service’s approximately 700 full-time staff, who would typically take advantage of the off-season to rest and recover, he said. …The BC Wildfire Service offers mental health supports that include a 24/7 dedicated counselling line, said Alex Lane, a firefighter.

Additional coverage in Global News by Isaac Callan: ‘We are sick of it’: Ontario forest firefighters burning out as concerns grow

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