Ian Ritchie, acting captain for the Port Alberni Fire Department, will be featured on Discovery Channel’s Hellfire Heroes. PHOTO COURTESY DISCOVERY CANADA

Vancouver Island firefighters showcased on Discovery Channel

Second season of Hellfire Heroes premieres Oct. 22

Discovery Channel’s original series, Hellfire Heroes, will be returning for a second season on Tuesday, Oct. 22, featuring Port Alberni’s very own fire department.

Hellfire Heroes follows four rural fire departments in their pursuit to serve and protect the communities in which they live. The eight-episode series will take viewers to Lesser Slave Lake, Alberta, Yellowhead Country, Alberta, Swift Current, Saskatchewan and here to Port Alberni, British Columbia.

For the past year, film crews have been in Port Alberni periodically following the city’s department as they responded to a battery of emergency calls.

PAFD Captain Randy Thoen, who is featured on the show, says that the second season of Hellfire Heroes will include structure fires, motor vehicle accidents, “and everything else in between that we respond to.”

The television crews visited Port Alberni three times throughout three seasons, including a stop during the summer of 2018 when fire crews were battling a wildfire on the Beaufort Range. It gave filmers a “good cross section” of the number of calls and types of calls that PAFD receives, said Thoen.

READ MORE: Wildfire near Port Alberni doubles in size

“My hope is that people who watch the show will have a better understanding of what it takes for small communities to…respond to major incidents,” he said. “Fires don’t burn any smaller in a smaller community.”

Thoen, who has been a firefighter in Port Alberni for 24 years, said that the experience with Hellfire Heroes was an “interesting” one.

“It was sometimes a challenge, carrying people and their gear in the truck with you,” he said. “But they were very professional. They knew what they were doing. They were able to film without getting in the way, or getting themselves in harm’s way. It was a good interaction altogether.”

Outside of their filming schedule, Thoen said the crews also “got a bit of a tour” of the Alberni Valley.

“We did our best to try and host them and show off Port Alberni,” he said.

Season two of Hellfire Heroes premieres at the end of October, which is appropriate timing for Fire Prevention Month, recognized all across Canada. Thoen hopes it gives the broader viewing population a glimpse of the work that rural fire crews do every day.

“I just hope people have a better understanding of what fires can do, and what’s involved for people who work to make our communities safer,” he said. “I hope that the show is enjoyed, and that they’re able to film a third season.”

Tune in to the Discovery Channel every Tuesday at 7 p.m. PST (starting Oct. 22) to see the Port Alberni Fire Department in action. Full episodes will also be available online at www.discovery.ca.


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