Learning that someone likened them to Santa Claus, Wayne and Chris Morrison laugh and say it’s because they bring all the presents.
The dynamic father and son duo have taken on the job of collecting and delivering supplies to firefighters and residents in the North Shuswap during the wildfires.
Wayne is not a stranger to fire. He belongs to the Shuswap Emergency Program and was a firefighter with the Shuswap Volunteer Fire Department for 30 years, fire chief for 15.
“We moved to town and I missed being involved in emergency services. Once it gets in your blood it’s hard to get rid of,” he explains.
Wayne lives in Salmon Arm and Chris in Kamloops. Chris is a flight service specialist – an air traffic controller at a smaller regional airport.
Funded by the Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD), the two men purchase what’s needed, most of it locally.
One of their most heart-wrenching experiences was when several Celista firefighters lost everything to the wildfire.
“The page goes off, you walk out of the house with your go-bag or your turn-out gear, and while you’re out fighting fire, your house burns to the ground,” Wayne explained.
The firefighters had nowhere to stay, nowhere to sleep, so the two men gathered cots, sleeping bags and pillows, clothes, toiletries – the basics the firefighters would need.
The upstairs of the fire hall was turned into a bunk room.
Wayne and Chris learned later that the firefighters were moved to tears by the delivery.
The job can be a bit exhausting, the two men admit.
Their first day was 12 hours and, by nightfall, visibility on the road due to smoke was minimal.
Despite the challenges, both men love helping the community. Chris points out he’s on holiday from his job. Wayne emphasizes their role is to help everyone, not just firefighters.
They recently had fun handing out boxes of chocolate chip cookies.
Obviously people like to see them coming, Wayne says.
“Yeah they do,” adds Chris. “Like you said, Santa Claus.”
Photo: Chris and Wayne Morrison love helping the community in their role with the Columbia Shuswap Regional District gathering and delivering supplies for residents and firefighters. (Viktoria Haack/CSRD photo)