Watch: South African firefighters’ song and dance in Canada goes viral


As a team of 300 firefighters from South Africa’s Working on Fire programme landed in Canada to join efforts to battle a massive wildfire raging in the country’s Alberta province, they broke into a traditional song and dance routine in the airport arrivals hall. The video of their performance has inspired Canadians – and gone viral across the world.

Firefighters South African firefighters from Working on Fire have headed to Canada to help extinguish wildfires in Alberta. (Image: Working on Fire)

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Shamin Chibba

Almost 300 firefighters broke into song and dance shortly after landing in Edmonton, western Canada, on Sunday night. And now a video of their performance has gone viral.

The team, members of South Africa’s Working on Fire programme, had arrived in the capital of the Canadian province of Alberta to join over 2 000 other firefighters currently battling a month-long wildfire threatening the town of Fort McMurray. The wildfire is expected to be Canada’s costliest natural disaster, with almost 580 000 hectares already charred by the inferno.

The South Africans arrived to a warm welcome from locals. One firefighter told CBC News that singing was a way to bond with each other. “It gives us moral courage, it gives us teamwork,” she said. “If we become tired in the fire, we sing.

“It’s not something you practice, it’s in the soul.”

South Africa’s Working on Fire programme was begun more than a decade ago to give young people skills and employment, and pull them out of poverty. It employs more than 5 000 young men and women, all fully trained as wildfire firefighters and stationed in more than 200 bases across South Africa.