They may be used to facing fires, but later this month firefighters in Swift Current will be facing cameras and television crews.
The Swift Current Fire Department has been chosen to appear in the second season of Hellfire Heroes on the Discovery Channel.
The show began as a mini-series focused on the fire department in Slave Lake, AB — which was decimated by a wildfire in 2011. Episodes focused on specific fire battles and detailed the stories of the people involved in the department.
Swift Current fire chief Darren McClelland said when he and his fellow firefighters were dreaming of a career, they never expected to wind up on reality television.
He said when young people consider a career as a firefighter, they might imagine it to be a glamorous high-intensity job. But in reality, there is a lot more to it and he hopes the show will give people the inside track on what goes on.
While their department doesn’t battle the same kind of forest fires people may see on the news in California, B.C. or Ontario, he said the prairie elements do offer unique challenges.
“We can get some pretty disastrous grassfires and I mean, in that sense it’s a wildfire,” McClelland said.
“Whether or not we get something like that – it’ll show how our training ties to our occupation and why we do what we do.”
Unlike larger cities which have full-time fire departments, Swift Current is a composite department employing 16 full-time career firefighters and 16 volunteers who have other jobs but still remain on call.
McLelland said he hopes the television show might inspire more young people to consider training as firefighters if they see what the job is really like on a day to day basis, beyond seeing the fire trucks speed by with sirens blaring.
“Hopefully it will trigger some people to be more interested in it because the day of volunteering is definitely gone and it is tougher to attract people for those types of positions,” he said.
Some of the initial film work and interviews have already been done, but camera crews will be shadowing the fire department later in August. McClelland said the episodes are expected to air on the Discovery Channel next spring, though he’s unsure how much of the season will be focused on his department.