The president of the firefighters’ union in Fort McMurray fears the lives of some his crew will be shortened as a result of battling the massive wildfire that devastated the northern Alberta city in May.
Nick Waddington says the firefighters breathed in hazardous smoke for days as the flames destroyed 24-hundred homes and buildings, and some of have developed a persistent cough.
Waddington says blood work and lung tests are being done, but firefighters will need regular check-ups and treatment for possible illnesses over the next 10 to 20 years.
Municipal firefighters normally wear a self-contained breathing apparatus while fighting house fires.
But Fort McMurray Fire Chief Darby Allen says their tanks quickly ran out of air and there was no time to refill them.
In addition, it took a few days for particulate filter masks usually worn by wildland firefighters to arrive in the city.
Municipal fire halls don’t normally stock such masks.
Peter Krich, president of the Alberta Fire Chiefs Association, says his group may look at whether filter masks should be on hand in communities in forested areas that face the same danger as Fort McMurray.
(The Canadian Press)