A firefighter based out of Merritt is recovering in hospital after suffering burns to his chest, neck, arm and face while battling the massive Sparks Lake wildfire northwest of Kamloops on July 7.
An online fundraiser at gofundme.com has been set up to help Dylan Bullock, but with $41,000 raised as of July 15, the request is that donations now go directly to the people of Lytton, where Bullock was stationed for many years and where many of his previous fire crew co-workers, known as The Rattlers, lost their homes.
Bullock has been fighting fires for the last 10 years. The injury occurred near Red Lake during a controlled burn, according to WorkSafeBC.
“Dylan’s journey to recovery will be a long one, and will rely on a lot of support from all aspects of his day to day life,” fundraising organizer Maria Cihlar posted on the GoFundMe page (search “Dylan’s Journey to Recovery"). “Myself and his family would like to thank everyone in advance for any donations, as they will be helping Dylan through the next few months, especially during rehab for his arm and neck.”
Danielle Marchand, a spokeswoman for the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union, confirmed to the Vancouver Sun that Bullock is a member of the union and said the accident happened during a controlled burn.
BCGEU president Stephanie Smith told the Sun the “thoughts and solidarity of the 82,000 members of the union are with Dylan, wishing him a full recovery" and added the union is working to ensure he and his loved ones and his colleagues have the support they need.
“We are awaiting the results of the investigation into the incident so it would not be appropriate to speculate about what happened or what needs to happen moving forward,” she said. “Once we have those results, our staff and activists will be working with BC Wildfire Service to do whatever needs to be done to make sure wildfire fighters have the safe, healthy working conditions they deserve.”
The BC Wildfire Service said it does everything it can to manage the safety and well-being of its staff.
“Firefighters put themselves in potentially dangerous situations to fight wildland fires, many of which are caused by people and completely preventable,” Briana Hill, a fire information officer, told the Sun in an emailed statement.
Hill said the number of reportable injuries within the BC Wildfire Service in 2020 was 117. The average number of reportable injuries from 2013 to 2020 was 137 per year. Reportable injuries include anything from a cut that requires first-aid care, to ankle and back sprains, to more serious injuries that require time off the job to recover.
Hill said the BC Wildfire Service has “a robust safety program with a focus on prevention, knowledge and learning opportunities.”