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Burnaby firefighters provide valuable assistance in wake of Hurricane Dorian

The Urban Search and Rescue Team (USAR) in the Bahamas in the wake of Hurrican Dorian 

The specialized training of Burnaby’s firefighters proved invaluable after a successful volunteer deployment to The Bahamas.

The Urban Search and Rescue Team (USAR), which included nine active Burnaby Fire Department members, one retired fire captain and a City of Burnaby employee, recently left the island after assisting with recovery efforts in the wake of Hurricane Dorian.

As part of the deployment, the team was charged with locating three missing Canadians, all of whom were found alive and well. The USAR group also located a number of deceased civilians among the devastation, and rescued countless dogs in the area and returned them to safety.

The USAR team was founded in 2015 by retired Burnaby fire Captain Mark Pullen to assist with post-earthquake relief efforts in Nepal. Pullen had previously responded to New Orleans during the Katrina disaster in 2005 and to Haiti in 2010.

“If a deployment is activated these individuals volunteer to assist those in need, paying their own airfare, covering their working shifts with vacation time and leaving their loved ones behind,” said Burnaby Fire Chief Dave Samson. “This all occurs on very short notice. This Light Urban Search and Rescue group trains on their own time as well.”

Samson credited IAFF Local 323 President Jeff Clark with organizing the Bahamas deployment.

“We here at Burnaby Fire are extremely proud of this team. It demonstrates the level of compassion our people have to not only assist those in our community that require assistance but to those that need help anywhere in the world,” said Samson. “This partnership between IAFF Local 323 and the Burnaby Fire Department has once again resulted in making a difference in people’s lives.”

The firefighters who volunteered for the Bahamas deployment are Brad Maars, Scott Ruddy, Ian Hetherington, Ryan Berry, Justin Lansing, Shawn Mohammed, Scott Murchison, Ben Oleschuk and Rob Lee.

Captain Pullen and City of Burnaby employee Chris Revitt worked alongside Penticton Fire Chief Larry Watkinson and retired VPD member Andy Krzus as part of a canine search team.

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