Burnaby firefighters will be among the first Canadians on the ground in the Bahamas helping communities devastated by Hurricane Dorian this week.
A 13-member team, including 11 firefighters and four recovery dogs left Burnaby Saturday night and will arrive in the Caribbean island nation Sunday.
Once there, they will present themselves to the authorities and explain what they’re capable of and what equipment they’ve brought, according to Mark Pullen, a retired Burnaby firefighter who has done similar work after other natural disasters, like Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the 2010 Haiti earthquake.
“Our main thing is technical search, identifying where bodies are, alive or dead,” he told the NOW before the firefighters’ departure.
Hurricane Dorian first made landfall in the Bahamas on Sept. 1 and stalled over the northern part of the region until Sept. 3, tearing communities to shreds with winds of up to 295 km/hr.
As of Saturday, the death toll had reached 43 and was expected to rise.
“Everybody’s asking for help, and not a lot of people are there yet,” said Jeff Clark, president of the Burnaby firefighters union.
It’s not the first time local firefighters have jumped into action to help after a natural disaster abroad.
Pullen organized a similar response after a 7.8 earthquake rocked Nepal in 2015.
Many of the same organizations that jumped on board then are helping again this time, according to Clark, including Pacific Blue Cross, Cathay Pacific and Milwaukee Tools.
Cathay Pacific is once again making an exception and allowing the dogs to travel in the cabin so they won’t be stressed and will be prepared to do their job as soon as they get to the disaster zone.