Fort McMurray fire captain calls out-of-city 1st responders 'the real heroes'

“I wouldn’t consider myself a hero but I’ve met more heroes in this experience than I’ve ever thought existed.”

'I wouldn’t consider myself a hero but I’ve met more heroes in this experience than I’ve ever thought existed'

Fort McMurray firefighter gets emotional

6 years ago
Duration 1:15
'Everybody I work with has been holding me up and I've been holding them up, so I'm in the company of heroes' says Adam Bugden

Even though Capt. Adam Bugden has been working flat out since Tuesday, he can't bring himself to say he's a hero.

"I wouldn't consider myself a hero but I've met more heroes in this experience than I've ever thought existed," he said Saturday.

Bugden, a nine-year veteran with the Fort McMurray fire department, has been on scene ever since the wildfire began its threatening advance on the city this week.

He pointed to the many first responders, including police and firefighters from around the province and country, who are on the frontlines working to protect his home.

"They are heroes to me," he said, his voice breaking with emotion.

Bugden, like the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo Fire Chief Darby Allen, described the fire as a "beast," and called the experience of battling it "surreal."
A wildfire moves into the city of Fort McMurray on May 3, destroying 1600 structures. (Terry Reith)

"I've never seen anything like this in my life and I never want to see it again," he said.

Throughout this week, Bugden battled fatigue. At one point, he was working to save homes from being destroyed on only eight hours of sleep over three days. Others worked 40 hours straight, Bugden added.

Only now are firefighters beginning to get some much needed rest and regular meals.

"We all have busted up feet and hands," he said. "One structure after another is going up and we were losing for a long time."
Capt. Adam Bugden with his wife, Sheri, outside the Fort McMurray fire department. (Supplied)

The work is physically demanding, with firefighters hauling hose, repeatedly going up and down hills and fighting massive flames. Bugden said that the camaraderie among firefighters, the sharing of feelings and dark humour has helped keep spirits up.

"It's not time to grieve or to be sad yet because we've still got a really big job to do," he said.

Plans are in the works to get these firefighters some much-needed time off so they can reunite with family. But for now, Bugden isn't going to worry about that.

Right now, Bugden said, he and his brothers in arms have a job to do. 

"The most important thing is maintaining a safe perimeter around our home, because this is our home."