More than 240 firefighting personnel battling the 2021 wildfires in 100 Mile House woke up to a tasty surprise Friday.
Country Prime Meats’ CEO Markus Springmann, with the help of Ulli Vogler, presented the firefighters with $10,000 worth of their premium honey garlic pepperoni sticks. Dozens of firefighters snagged handfuls or boxes of the snacks for the long shifts ahead.
BC Wildfire Service officer and 100 Mile incident commander Hugh Murdoch was pleased with the donation.
“At first I thought ‘a 11,500 pepperoni sticks, that’s an awful lot of pepperoni.’ But then you realize it’s not just for the firefighters, it’s for the equipment operators, the pilots and the support staff, and they’re all in it for a very long haul,” Murdoch said. “Food makes people happy and this isn’t just food – it’s an act of generosity and it’s another unique way in the Cariboo for locals to show their appreciation for what we do.”
Murdoch said there are a lot of tough battles ahead and such donations are a great morale booster. Unlike 2017, he said a lot of the fires are out deep in the bush so many firefighters don’t always see the public’s appreciation for what they do.
Springmann and Volger, meanwhile, thanked firefighters for their efforts as they passed out the food to the crews, who came from Canim Lake, Mackenzie Lake, the Kootenays, Vancouver Island and even New Brunswick. Springmann said they appreciate the work the crews do to keep the fires away because it allows him to keep his 90 employees working to support the local economy.
“We want to give back to their effort and say ‘thank you very much’ and donate some pepperoni that hopefully puts some smiles on their faces,” Springmann said.
They said they picked single wrap honey garlic pepperoni sticks to give the firefighters because it’s the “perfect pocket food” for while they’re on the line.
Vogler, who works at Country Prime Meats part-time, added a big thank you to the company, which put in the work to cut, pack and seal the food to be ready on time for the donation.
Travis Rinas, a trained paramedic from Salmo, said the donation was welcome. He snagged a half dozen sticks for himself and two boxes for the heavy machinery operators working the fire who aren’t at camp.
“Honestly, you get run down real quick (fighting fires) so anything that can lift your spirits is always good.”
Rinas has volunteered to fight wildfires for the past 12 years, usually as a medic, but this year said he tried his hand at working on the line. The work is hard but enjoyable, he said, especially when you’re working with a good group of people.
“This year I put boots to the ground. I’m a little older than I should be but I thought I might as well try it once,” Rinas said. “I’m injured now, unfortunately, but that’s ok. I’m an old man so it’s hard to keep up with the little kids.”
Looking at the fire situation broadly, Murdoch said it’s evident that there’s a big challenge across the province. There’s a lot of fires burning right now and while many people may blame the heat dome for causing them, he said, even before that there was very little moisture in the province.
“We’re just getting started. It’s mid-July and we have a month and a half ahead of us that’s going to be pretty tough,” Murdoch said.