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Hellfire Heroes

New Episode Tuesdays 10ET

CHIEF JAMIE COUTTS

LESSER SLAVE REGIONAL FIRE SERVICE
Jamie Coutts is the quintessential Fire Chief. A natural born leader with a hardcharging type ‘A’ personality, he drives his firefighters to be their best, while his experience and safety-first approach earns him the trust and loyalty of his entire crew. As Chief of the Lesser Slave Lake Regional Fire Service for 15 years and a firefighter for 25, Jamie describes his job as “being able to fly at 30,000 feet and to see everything that’s going on”.

Jamie runs a smooth-operating fire department and works hard to give his firefighters the knowledge, skills, and equipment they need to serve and protect their community. His 22-year-old son, firefighter Ryan Coutts, is also under his command. But Jamie treats Ryan like just another member of the family - of Slave Lake firefighters.

LIEUTENANT RYAN COUTTS

LESSER SLAVE REGIONAL FIRE SERVICE
The son of a Fire Chief, twenty-two-year-old Ryan Coutts was born and raised in the company of fire-fighters. So it probably came as no surprise to anyone, when at the age of 14, Ryan joined the Junior Fire Program. At first, he was a typical adrenaline junkie – first on the truck and first to grab a hose. But Ryan quickly learned the value of working together, as a member of a team.

CHIEF ALBERT BAHRI

YELLOWHEAD COUNTY FIRE DEPARTMENT
33-year veteran Albert Bahri grew up in the Maritimes, but now calls Alberta his home. Albert is the Director of Protective Services, and the Fire Chief of Yellowhead County - a remote region covering 22,000 square kilometers, about two-thirds the size of New Brunswick.

Chief Bahri oversees nine fire stations and 150 full and part time members. Many of the men and women he commands give him high praise for always keeping his cool and leading the crew with a steady hand – especially when the going gets tough.

CAPTAIN CORINNE GRANT

YELLOWHEAD COUNTY FIRE DEPARTMENT
Firefighting is a Corinne Grant family tradition. Corinne’s grandfather was the first fire chief in Niton Junction, Alberta. And her father, brother and sister-in-law are all firefighters. When Corinne’s older brother, Eddie Strauss, hesitated to follow in the family footsteps, it was Corinne who gave him a gentle shove, and inspired Eddie to join up. Captain Corinne Grant lives on a family farm and has four children.

LIEUTENANT ED STRAUSS

YELLOWHEAD COUNTY FIRE DEPARTMENT
Ed Strauss is a lieutenant at Station 8 in Niton, Alberta, and a ‘casual’ (as-needed) firefighter at Station 12 in Edson, where he often teams up with fellow firefighter and younger sister, Corrine Grant. His wife, Lieutenant Brenda Smersk, is also a firefighter, in Evansburg, Alberta. Ed’s the kind of guy who always gets the job done, no matter how tough or daunting the task. Which might explain why his sister calls him “bull-headed”.

According to Ed, the biggest challenges of being a firefighter in a rural area are water, distance, and manpower. A three-alarm fire in an urban location might involve 40 firefighters, but in Yellowhead County they’ll only have eight. He defines courage as “the experience of being afraid while facing a challenge head on”

FIREFIGHTER AARON STEWART

SWIFT CURRENT FIRE DEPARTMENT
Aaron has worked as a bartender, a laborer, a medic in the oil fields, and an integrated paramedic/firefighter in Sherwood Park, Alberta. When he moved back to his hometown of Swift Current, Saskatchewan, Aaron married his high school sweetheart and joined the local fire department, where he’s now been for the last five years.

Aaron is into tennis, snowboarding, hot rods and motorcycles. But you’ll rarely find him at the gym. He’d rather keep fit playing hockey and riding his bicycle.

FIREFIGHTER KARLA CAIRNS

SWIFT CURRENT FIRE DEPARTMENT
A personal fitness trainer for NHL and local hockey players, Karla wanted to make a career change that incorporated physical fitness with daily challenges. She found it as a firefighter. She’s been with Swift Current for four years, and not only does she love the physical challenges of the job, but she also loves the tough, physically demanding, Swift Current training sessions.

In 2015-2018, Karla competed in FireFit, an intense race involving a wide variety of firefighting skills. Calling it the “hardest sport that I’ve ever had an opportunity to participate in” Karla placed second in the Canadian female category.

CAPTAIN RANDY THOEN

PORT ALBERNI FIRE DEPARTMENT
Randy is a veteran firefighter of 24 years and a Captain at the Port Alberni fire hall. He grew up in Saskatchewan and went to school in Saskatoon. Early in the morning, after school, and on weekends and holidays, he worked on the family farm. At 17, he joined the Navy, where he worked as a hull technician and learned firefighting. Randy is a veteran of the 1st Gulf War.

He loves firefighting because he gets the chance to help people in little and big ways. He says he likes it that “when people don’t know who to call for help, they’ll call us.”

ACTING CAPTAIN AND FIREFIGHTER IAN RITCHIE

PORT ALBERNI FIRE DEPARTMENT
Born and raised in Port Alberni, British Columbia, Ian received his training along the coastal shores of Vancouver Island. After marrying his high school sweetheart and having two children, he joined the fire service in 2000.

What Ian loves most about his job is that he can be doing CPR, saving the life of on an eighty-three-year-old man one moment, and resuscitating a two-year-old girl the next. He loves the personal rewards of helping others, doing work that is never monotonous, problem solving, and thinking outside the box.

FIREFIGHTER BEN HALYCHUK

PORT ALBERNI FIRE DEPARTMENT
When the 911 call comes in and the chimes ring out, Ben Halychuk, aka the “Gristle Missile”, is usually first on the truck.

Ben grew up in Surrey, BC. He joined the Navy in 1991 and served as an ironworker and truck driver until 1994. Ben says the Navy prepared him well for his firefighting career. After getting out of the Navy, he moved to Port Alberni and since he joined the fire service in 1997, he’s never looked back.

Ben’s been a fire fighter now for more than 20 years and says what he loves most about the job is “figuring out the science of battling fires and putting them out”.