TV show puts spotlight on Alberta fire departments

The Yellowhead County and Lesser Slave Lake fire departments are the stars of Hellfire Heroes, a new show that airs Tuesdays on Discovery.

Hellfire Heroes stars Yellowhead County, Lesser Slave Lake firefighters

Chief Albert Bahri of the Yellowhead County Fire Department is featured in the new television series Hellfire Heroes, which airs Tuesday nights on Discovery. (Discovery/Bell Media)

From battling forest fires to rescuing people in remote areas, rural firefighters need to be ready for anything.

A new TV series is putting the spotlight on two rural fire departments in Alberta.

Hellfire Heroes airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. MT on Discovery. The show stars the Yellowhead County and Lesser Slave Lake fire departments.

Chief Albert Bahri of the Yellowhead County Fire Department said the production crew managed to capture the real drama and action of the Yellowhead County firefighters.

Bahri doesn't think the show fits into the genre of reality TV because there was no stopping or second takes.

"One thing that we told the production company is: 'We're not changing the way we do business for your show. There's no second takes,' " Bahri said in an interview Wednesday on CBC Radio's Radio Active.

"There's no acting in the sense of, 'Just stop for a second, Let's do that again.' Not happening. If you're not on the truck when we go out the door, you're not going to get the clips."

Camera crew assisted on calls

Bahri said the production crew took firefighter training prior to filming the series.

By the end of the filming the camera crew became so integrated with the department that they assisted on some calls.

"Towards the end of the filming we didn't realize they were there, because they were a part of the crew that was responding to the call," Bahri said.

"To the point where some of them actually put their cameras down and pulled hoses for us, changed breathing apparatus cylinders, they were spectacular crews."

Rural firefighters face different challenges compared to their urban counterparts, Bahri said. 

Winter challenges

The Yellowhead coverage area is 22,000 square kilometres and finding water sources to fight fires can be difficult, particularly in winter.

"We don't have all of our area covered in hydrants," Bahri said. "We have to haul water or we have to find static water sources. In the wintertime that's quite difficult. You know when water freezes three or four feet thick, where do you get it? You have to cut holes in the ice."

The first episode of the series aired Tuesday evening. Bahri said the show will be useful for his department to critique their response to calls and hopefully recruit more firefighters.

"Our whole goal with this show is to bring to light what we do on a day-to-day basis in the hopes of recruiting some people who may come out and be interested to be volunteers; that's our biggest goal," he said.

"And then to showcase the professional work that our firefighters do in the county that we live in."