The Williams Lake fire hall buzzed with activity on Saturday, June 18 as local firefighters from the Williams Lake Fire Department hosted their annual open house.
Hundreds of residents of all ages checked out the scene both inside and outside the hall, including all the flashing fire trucks on display. Children pretended to drive the trucks and scrambled through the obstacle course to do a faux fire drill by crawling through a tube and spraying a hose at a toy house painted with flames on it.
Multiple emergency services were present, including the Wildwood Fire Department, BC Emergency Health Services, Central Cariboo Search and Rescue (CCSAR) and BC Conservation officers to name a few.
At one booth, firefighters Kris Wilk and co-firefighter, Cory Holm demonstrated how to put on their protective gear.
“When we’re called out to a fire,” said Holm, “we literally have two minutes or less to put on our gear.”
Other activities occurred throughout the day, including a barbecue where parents enjoyed burgers while watching their children squeal and jump in the bouncy castle. Others made a splash with the dunk tank.
“We came here for the fire trucks,” said Katie Smith, who brought her children to the open house.
Williams Lake Fire Department supports various causes, including Fill the Boot, which seeks to find a cure for Muscular Dystrophy and provides supportive equipment like wheelchairs.
“It started in 1954 when an American firefighter’s child was diagnosed with MD,” said firefighter Dereck Sulentuch.
MD is a rare neuromuscular disease that weakens muscles. Currently there is no cure, but researchers are learning more about the disease to develop successful treatments.
According to Health Partners Canada, MD affects 50,000 Canadians. HPC is a collaboration of many of Canada’s most trusted charities such as the Canadian Cancer Society, The Heart and Stroke Foundation and Muscular Dystrophy Canada. To donate, you can go to the Muscular Dystrophy Canada website and search online for Fill the Boot Canada or follow this link: https://muscle.ca/take-action/fire-fighters/.
People like Twyla Bortolussi and her partner, Kevin Wray came to the open house to show their support. Bortolussi’s daughter is a member of CCSAR.
“I’m really proud of my children and like to be there for them as much as possible,” said Bortolussi.
Bortolussi’s daughter, Debra Bortolussi, has been with CCSAR for six years. “I love being part of what feels like a big family and making a difference in people’s lives’,” she said.
CCSAR members are also capable of operating the Jaws of Life in the event of a serious vehicle accident. They demonstrated to the crowd the Jaw’s power by ripping off the roof and doors of an old vehicle and busting its windows.
For the grand finale, firefighters competed against one another for the fastest time in a training drill where they worked through a series of challenges including pretending to put out a fire and “rescuing” a human-weighted mannequin.
The day’s events were organized by Kayla Topping, who has been with the WLFD for the past three years.