(File)

Sidney to thank emergency personnel for helping at the wildfires

Community lunch a thank-you to firefighters, police and their families

Firefighters, police officers and their families from the Saanich Peninsula are invited to an appreciation event later this week, recognizing their hard work in the forest fire zones in B.C.’s interior.

Both Sidney and North Saanich fire departments sent trucks and crews to the interior — and Central Saanich’s department sent firefighters — to help protect property and people from the wildfires that set records for sheer numbers and area burned this summer.

Organizer Kenny Podmore said the event is being held to show local firefighters, police and their families that the community honours what they do and the sacrifices they make to help others. It’s also a show of appreciation for the people left behind on the Peninsula — whether it be families or the firefighters who stayed to ensure the local areas was protected.

Those fire crews worked shifts in interior communities like Williams Lake and Clinton, protecting homes and sawmills in evacuation zones. Police helped take the pressure of officers from those areas, as they worked to prevent looting and to keep people safe during evacuations.

“It must have been hell up there.”

“We are going to feed the firefighters, police and their families at this event,” Podmore said. “It’s basically a family day type thing and the community is invited to attend as well.”

Panorama Recreation Centre has gotten on board and it not only providing the venue — Greenglade Community Centre’s grounds — but will bring kids games. Thrifty Foods is donating food, with support from the Sidney Pier Hotel and Spa, and the Sidney Lions Club will be cooking up a by-donation lunch for the community.

“We are proud to partner with the community for this wonderful event,” stated Wayne Ruffle, chair of the Saanich Peninsula Recreation Commission, the body that oversees Panorama.

Ruffle added they appreciate the hard work and dedication show by emergency services personnel.

“The effort put forth by our volunteers, working long days, away from home, and facing difficult and dangerous conditions speaks to the quality and character of our firefighters,” stated Sidney Fire Chief Brett Mikkelsen.

Sidney North Saanich RCMP detachment commander Staff Sergeant Wayne Conley added their officers were part “of a large network of agencies who were involved in efforts to keep the public safe and to minimize damage. We extend our appreciation to the organizers for recognizing the officers who responded.”

The appreciation lunch takes place Sunday, September 24 from 12 noon to 3 p.m. at Greenglade Community Centre at 2151 Lannon Way in Sidney.

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