Houston firefighters got high praise from Burns Lake this week, as did the “mutual aid” pact that let the towns join forces to fight the Hampton sawmill fire.
Burns Lake Mayor Luke Strimbold and Fire Chief Jim McBride came to a Houston council meeting on Tuesday and gave Houston’s finest a certificate of thanks.
When a deadly fire broke out Jan. 20 at the Hampton mill, McBride said he knew right away that he wanted company.
“Houston responded and, pardon my language, they did one hell of a job,” he said. Turning to the Houston firefighters who gathered to receive the award, he added, “We couldn’t have done it without you guys.”
Mayor Strimbold also thanked the firefighters and their families for choosing to serve the community.
“One of the things we forget is that it’s a family commitment,” he said. “When you left Houston for Burns Lake, you didn’t know what you were getting yourselves into and neither did your family.”
After 13 years running the Burns Lake fire department, McBride says he’s seen strong camaraderie form between the Houston and Burns Lake fire crews.
The “mutual aid” pact cements that friendship, he said.
Under the agreement, fire crews in Smithers, Telkwa, Houston and Burns Lake can call on one another for back up if they face a major fire.
Fraser Lake, Vanderhoof and Fort St. James have yet to join the pact. Burns Lake did get through on Jan. 20 to firefighters in Fraser Lake, but none of the Fraser Lake councillors were available at that hour to approve the resource sharing.
McBride said that talks are ongoing, and he hopes the east side of the district will come together on this issue.
McBride also recognized the work of Ken Thomson, who retired as Houston fire chief this fall, for taking the lead in starting up the mutual aid system.