417 Squadron helps BC respond to wildfires

CH-147 Chinook

This CH-147 Chinook and CH-146 Griffon are part of the Air Task Force assisting with the wildfires in BC.
Photo: CF Combat Camera

Jeff Gaye

Two CH-146 Griffon helicopters and 10 personnel from 417 Combat Support Squadron are in BC to help with the wildfires burning in the province’s interior.

At the request of the Province of British Columbia, the Canadian Armed Forces has sent air assets to conduct a variety of tasks, including helping to evacuate people and flying first responders and equipment where they are needed.

The squadron’s deployed personnel include a four-person Search and Rescue air crew (two pilots, a Flight Engineer and a SAR Technician), and six aircraft technicians.

417 Squadron arrived in Kelowna July 9 and moved to Kamloops July 11. They are part of an Air Task Force (ATF) that includes two CC-130J Hercules aircraft flying out of 19 Wing Comox, and five helicopters – two CH-147F Chinooks and three Griffons – in Kamloops.

The squadron’s primary role is to respond to any requests made by the BC government and react to any emergency situations.

So far they have conducted reconnaissance of many remote communities and found potential landing zones in case the ATF is asked to help with evacuations, and flown RCMP personnel to help evacuate Loon Lake. They have completed two medical evacuations, and an air crew from 439 Squadron (from 2 Wing Bagotville) used 417’s second aircraft to conduct two more.

The SAR Technician from 417 Squadron has also worked with a Chinook crew to perform a medevac with their aircraft.