A new set of soldiers have rolled into Vernon to continue helping firefighters extinguish wildfires in the province.
More than 100 soldiers from 11 Field Squadron and 18 Squadron, 1 Combat Engineer Regiment (1 CER) arrived at Land Task Force (LTF) Vernon Wednesday, Aug. 11. They are in town to replace members from 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (1 PPCLI), who have been supporting BC Wildfire Services as part of the Canadian Armed Force’s Operation LENTUS since July 23.
Additional soldiers from 38, 39, and 41 Brigades arrived Thursday, Aug. 12 and will form a Disaster Response Company. The LTF consists of approximately 250 troops. The arrival of the new troops prior to the departure of 1 PPCLI ensures continuous, uninterrupted support to British Columbians. As 1 PPCLI members are replaced, they will return back to Canadian Forces Base Edmonton, where they will take a much-deserved break.
“Over the last three weeks, members from 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry have worked tirelessly beside their BC Wildfire Services counterparts to provide effects for British Columbians,” LTF Commander Maj. Adam Petrin said. “I am extremely proud of the work they have accomplished and the opportunity to serve Canada at home.”
Soldiers initially arrive at the Vernon Cadet Summer Training Center to be issued personal protective equipment, such as red fire retardant coveralls, which is required to be able to work on the fire line under direct supervision of firefighters from BCWS. Once equipped, they will proceed to one of the two fires currently being supported by the CAF – the Flat Lake fire, near 100 Mile House, or the Thomas Creek fire, east of Okanagan Falls.
Tasks on the fire line include suppression of hot spots on existing lines to ensure full extinguishment, building new fire lines on priority fires, and providing transport assistance where required to non-CAF personnel also deployed in support of this effort.
“Members of 1 Combat Engineer Regiment are trained and prepared to react to any challenge presented to them. I have the utmost confidence that they will meet the expectations of the Province of British Columbia and the BC Wildfire Services over the coming days,” Commander 1 CER Lieut.-Col. Kurt Grimsrud. “I look forward to leading this team and thank 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry for setting us up for success.”
Operation LENTUS is the CAF response to natural disasters in Canada. This year alone, Operation LENTUS has seen the CAF support flood response in the Yukon, and wildfires in Northwestern Ontario, British Columbia and Manitoba.