The Fort McKay Fire Department is coming home from Nova Scotia after winning a National Firefighting Competition.
Eight Indigenous crews from across Canada took part in the event, put on by the Aboriginal Firefighters Association of Canada, on the Eskasoni First Nation on Saturday.
The competition included multiple activities where firefighters got to share some of the skills they’ve learned and mastered throughout their career.
Deputy Fire Chief Ron Quintal tells Mix News this was a fun way to show just how much they’re dedicated to their job.
“It’s also an opportunity to go out and have some fun and to come back with some bragging rights – realistically, you got over 400 First Nations in Canada and we had the opportunity to be the successful nation for Alberta.”
The Fort McKay team earned their spot after winning the provincial competition in June.
This was the first time they’ve competed since 2015. In 2016, the fire department helped fight the Horse River wildfire, with the aftermath playing a part in their decision to skip out in the years following.
“You get to share some stories, the devastation, as well as the success of what we were able to save,” said Quintal. “We showed pictures, slides to the other teams to show them just what we’ve been through.”
The Fort McKay Fire Department is no rookie to these showcases earning a spot in five different National Competitions, winning back in 2014.
Quintal adds they can be quite nerve-racking, however, it doesn’t come close to actually fighting a real blaze.
“Fighting a real fire, the adrenaline is ten times what you would see in these competitions. The competition itself is more of a competitive rush and it’s your ability to execute duties that you would find on the fire ground on a daily basis.”
He notes this is just more evidence as to why Wood Buffalo has some of the best firefighters in the world.