The life of a Slave Lake Fire Dispatcher

Callie Hermanson
Lakeside Leader

For the past two fire seasons, Cadance Mutch has spent her summers at the firebase in Slave Lake.

“I decided to become a fire dispatcher because my brother is a Helitack leader in the district and has been working here for about five seasons,” says Mutch, adding she was also interested in the forestry field.

Mutch says she applied to almost every district in the province when she was looking for a job. She says the application process is accessible through the government of Alberta’s website under Agriculture and Forestry if anyone is interested in becoming a dispatcher.

Mutch says all you do is submit a resume along with the application; then the supervisors will call people for interviews.

“I drove up to Slave lake for my interview, and a month later I got a call offering me the job.

Mutch says her responsibilities as a dispatcher include collecting weather from the towers, which is one of the main things the dispatchers do first thing in the morning.

Mutch explains they are also responsible for making sure information is accurate for crews going out to the day bases and that their manifests are right, making sure helicopters are in the right location on the dispatch map, making sure contracts are entered correctly, and doing 30 minute check-ins with all aircraft. Dispatchers are responsible for making sure crews send in their safety briefings and their manifests for flying, making sure their information is put into the dispatch program so they can be tracked and last but not least, tracking smoke detections.

“We definitely have stressful days, but there is a little bit of stress with every job.”

Mutch adds the people she works with make the job easier because they have such a team atmosphere and work really well with each other.

“Our personalities blend well with each other, and without that, we wouldn’t be able to as amazing of a job as we do.”

Mutch says her favourite thing about her job is being in contact with the towers every day because she gets to connect them with the rest of the district, making sure that they feel included when they are in such remote areas. She mentions they’re all such cool people so learning about them is really interesting.

Mutch says sometimes they get to go out to the towers when someone is doing a tower service so they can see the site and get a better idea of where they are sending people to. She says last year she had the opportunity to go to the tanker base at Loon River for the day and go see where everything was and where she was dispatching to. She had also gone up to High Prairie to the staging camp.

“It kinda gives you a little bit better situational awareness.”

Cadance Mutch

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