August 30, 2015 7:08 pm

WATCH: What does it take to battle Alberta wildfires by air?


WATCH ABOVE: It’s been a busy wildfire season in Alberta and neighbouring provinces. Lisa Wolansky takes a closer look at what it takes to battle these fires by air.

EDMONTON — It’s been a busy wildfire season in Alberta and throughout much of western Canada, and that means a significant number of firefighters risking their lives. So what does it take to battle these types of blazes by air?

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Jamie Parker has spent the past four wildfire seasons as a rappel firefighter. When there’s a fire too difficult to access by ground, Parker and his crew are called out.

“We have the capability to rappel in and put out the fire just like any other crew, except we’re just rappel capable,” said Parker.

A rappel team usually consists of seven members: six people who rappel and one to be their spotter.

“It can be pretty tough at times,” Parker said. “It can be taxing physically, you can work pretty long hours. Sometimes you work up to 16 hours in a day. Sometimes you can work overnighters and you’ll work through the night.”

This season has kept hundreds of firefighters extremely busy, and when they’re not fighting fires they’re training.

“They have to not only trust themselves, trust their teammates, their co-workers, but also their equipment. So that’s why the training and the practice and the relationships that they’re building is so important,” explained Shannon Stambaugh, a wildfire information officer.

“Firefighting is a very serious occupation and these firefighters that are out there are risking their lives.”

So far this year there have been more than 1,600 wildfires in Alberta.

© 2015 Shaw Media

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