Seeing the reaction to the emergency responder salute for hospital workers held in Williams Lake two Saturday nights ago was heart warming for deputy fire chief Rob Warnock.
“It was fantastic. Thank you to everyone who came out, it was awesome,” he said Tuesday. “It looked really good and I’ve heard nothing but kudos to everyone.”
Comparing the 2017 wildfires to the COVID-19 pandemic, Warnock said it’s the unknown that makes it more difficult.
“It’s something we’ve never been through before. At least during the fires you knew there was going to be an end,” he said. “You really don’t know where or when the end is going to be. We can’t tell everybody they can go back to work next week. Is it going to be the end of April? the end of May? the end of July?”
Adhering to social distancing withing the fire department, crews have been trying to maintain the two metres apart from each other when responding to calls.
Technically, the firefighters are not first responders, he explained.
“We don’t do medical calls, we do everything but. We go to MVIs for everyone there — for the ambulance, for search and rescue, police. We do traffic and mitigate an unsafe issue at a scene so everyone can go in there. That’s our job.”
When the fire department arrives, they try and make the scene safe by blocking off roads and viewing the scene as a whole.
“If we have to shut down the highway we will do that so the ambulance or search and rescue can get in there to get those people safely out.”
Last week Warnock and other firefighters stepped up to help grocery shop for the Salvation Army
Warnock has lived in Williams Lake 45 years. He moved here with his parents from Surrey when they purchased the Stampeder Motel, which was where he basically grew up.
He graduated in 1986 and his parents sold the motel, bought a house on Pigeon, which Warnock’s son owns today.
In 1992 he joined the fire department. After working at public works for the City, eventually becoming a foreman.
“I became a career member of the fire department 13 years ago.”