Canadian wildfire fighters don’t want “catastrophe” to be “catalyst” for change

From Global News.

When it comes to wildfires, the conversation is often framed in big-picture — almost statistical — terms: total hectares destroyed, number of people evacuated, air quality index and the total cost of damages. But lost in this view are the people at the forefront of Canada’s response to fires.

Far from the stereotype of anonymous heroes hidden behind heavy gear is the difficult reality of intense pressure, long hours and severe mental and physical health burdens. Yet in their voices, they are not just issuing a warning — but a prescription. A call for Canada to reassess its relationship with wildfires and wildfire fighters alike.

“It’s not a matter of if it’s going to happen, it’s a matter of when it’s going to happen. And by that I mean when is the community going to burn down? When is someone going to lose their life?” Canadian Wildfire Network founder Andrew Base said. “I just don’t want the catastrophe to be the catalyst to change in policy and how we manage fires and our forested environment.”

From how people think of wildfires to how officials can best support the people behind them, how can the world learn to better live with wildfires — and just who are the people hidden behind the thick walls of smoke and flames? Global’s Katherine Cheng has more.

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