A South Aussie Experience Fighting Canadian Wildfires

July 19, 2023 12:11 pm in by
Terry Schutz, Mannum CFS volunteer over in Canada. Credit: SA CFS

While hundreds of wildfires have been burning across Canada over the past month, hundreds of Australian and New Zealand firefighting volunteers have been over to support North American crews.

Mannum local and business owner Terry Schutz from Pfeifer Hill Upholstery has been one of the South Australians to take time out to help.

The CFS volunteer and Group Officer for Swanport brought 25 years of experience with him during his trip in June, and while he had a lot of experience to share, he had a steep learning curve in the new terrain.

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“There’s no firetrucks over there, everything’s footwork… so we would have to walk in or get dropped in by helicopter, so we spent a lot of time walking in the forest,” Terry Schutz said in an ARN radio interview this morning with Jennie Lenman.

“It really didn’t take much for the conditions to change. It got very dangerous with fallen trees and because of the wind, spruce and aspen trees [which] are essentially very low rooted (300mm of ground), these 70, 80, 90 foot trees can fall with the slightest wind, so it’s a real problem and quite dangerous to be in, as well as the fire.”

He said he learnt a lot from local firefighters too.

“We had a lot of First Nations people from Canada and those people are the ones who taught me the most because they are so used to fighting these types of fires, so even just little tricks of how to put a strainer on the end of suction hose so it didn’t get clogged up in the marsh…. I learnt a lot from them,” he said.

Hear more from Terry Schutz from this morning’s radio interview with ARN journalist Jennie Lenman via the play window below:

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Terry Shutz. Credit: SA CFS.

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