Langley resident and Burnaby firefighter Erik Vogel knows all too well the busy life of a firefighter.
These first-responders provide life-saving services, but they also get involved in activities for people with burns and help firefighters in other countries.
As a director of the BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund, Vogel is passionate about raising funds for the new Burn Fund Centre in Vancouver.
Cascades Casino Resort in Langley will host A Night of Inspiration and Comedy for the centre Aug. 1.
“The event is for our new Burn Fund Centre because we’re only $440,000 away from our goal. This event will help us cross the finish line with success,” he noted.
Plans for the centre began a decade ago.
“Last fall, the Jack & Darlene Poole Foundation donated $2.5 million and reduced our overall fundraising goal to $1.5 million which gave us the confidence to start construction.” Vogel said.
The project will cost $13.1 million and construction began in November 2014.
Located between the BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn, Trauma and Plastics Unit at Vancouver General Hospital and BC Children’s Hospital, the centre will provide eight suites for families and burn patients undergoing treatment, plus a range of non-medical services.
“It gives burn patients and families a place to stay during treatment with the things they need,” Vogel said.
The Aug. 1 fundraiser will include an Elvis impersonator, stand-up comedy, and inspiration from Fort Langley resident Heidi Cave, a burn survivor who wrote Fancy Feet.
Buffet dinner and raffle prizes are included.
Tickets are $75 and can be purchased through Vogel at 778-846-2915 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kids go to camp
Another important activity is supporting burn-survivor kids through the BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund Burn Camp.
There were 73 kids between the ages of six and 18 at Burn Camp in Squamish this year which ran for a week after the kick off on July 19. One participant is from Langley.
Campers have one thing in common – they have severe burns.
“It’s big for the kids to go swimming in public,” Vogel said. “That’s a big part of camp.”
Camp counsellors volunteer their time and are professional firefighters, burn unit doctors and nurses, and adult burn survivors – some who attended Burn Camp when they were younger.
“It’s almost a one to one ratio of campers to adults when you add up all the support staff,” noted Vogel.
It’s a week of fun with swimming, hiking, kayaking, skits, and arts and crafts for kids who may have a hard time experiencing such activities due to their injuries.
Camp gives them both the support of adult counsellors as well as time with others who have gone through similar difficulties.
“To see a child come to camp wearing a hoody and long pants thinking they are the only one burned out there, they see these other people who are also burned and realize it’s not the end of the world, they go home wearing shorts and a T-shirt. You only have to see that once,” Vogel said.
Find out more about Burn Camp and other programs of the Burn Fund visit www.burnfund.org.
It was at Burn Camp about five years ago when Vogel met David Sakaki, a Kamloops firefighter and president of the Kamloops Firefighters Operation Nicaragua.
Old gear is donated and shipped to fire departments in Nicaragua.
Two complete air packs (SCBA), uniforms, and small equipment from the Langley City Fire Department have been added to the shipment being packed and prepared for the Nicaraguan fire department. Last year the Langley department gave a large amount of gear.
Groups of firefighters and those interested in the cause head to Nicaragua to help train firefighting techniques and distribute donations.
Vogel and his girlfriend Gaby Olson have been on two trips, and two of this year’s Burn Camp counsellors from Kamloops were in Nicaragua with them.
Gerry Caceres, a Nicaraguan fire chief was in Langley in October 2014 and said, “We fight fires with whatever we have to protect ourselves. Sometimes we have to pitch in to put fuel in the firetruck to get to the fire. It’s zero pay, 100 per cent volunteer. We don’t get funds from the government.”