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42 new N.W.T. firefighters training near Yellowknife

Forty-two people from Yellowknife, Behchoko and Lutsel'ke are training to become type-3 firefighters this week outside Dettah, N.W.T.

Forty-two people from Yellowknife, Behchoko and Lutsel'ke are training to become type-3 firefighters this week outside Dettah, N.W.T.

The intensity of the territory's fire season means more bodies are needed to extinguish the blazes that are under control. When the call went out for help, dozens signed up for training.

"We've got to do what we've got to do, the Northwest Territories needs help," said Steve Twin. "I'm strong enough and willing enough to give a hand and I feel good about it."

Many said they signed up to learn how to protect their communities. Roger Bishop of Behchoko said he stepped up to "try to stop the burning, so I can go out on the land."

Ernie Francis, a forest officer with the N.W.T. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, is teaching the new recruits how to safely prepare for being on the fire line.

Water bombers attack fires first; suppression crews contain them; then type-3 crews start working along the perimeter.

"They black line 100 feet in, put out every hot spot around the edge," he said. "From there they work inward with hand tools, axes, shovels, polaskis. They basically put out the fire. They're the ones that actually put the fires out."

Francis says people have to be prepared for long days of hauling equipment and almost three weeks straight in the bush.

"You're basically walking around in the bush, looking for hot spots," he said. "It's very tedious work. Very tiring as well."

New recruits who pass the training will be deployed to the fires next week. They'll also be certified to return to work next year.

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