A group of Burnaby, B.C., firefighters are heading to the Bahamas Saturday to help search for victims and survivors of Hurricane Dorian.
Search and rescue teams are still trying to reach some Bahamian communities isolated by floodwaters and debris after Dorian struck the northern part of the archipelago last Sunday as a Category 5 storm.
At least 43 people have been confirmed killed by the hurricane, but officials say the death toll is likely to keep rising through the weekend.
Retired firefighter Mark Pullen says he and 13 other firefighting members are planning to travel to Nassau Saturday night to help with the search efforts.
“The way firefighters are, they just want to help,” he said. “It really kind of happens right away, people phoning each other … just because it’s so stark watching it as it happens.”
WATCH: BC rescue crews join grim search for Dorian’s dead
Pullen says his team specializes in technical search, using trained dogs and electronic acoustic and seismic equipment to find people who are buried under rubble and wood.
Cameras and microphones are also used, allowing two-way communication for survivors to help lead crews to their location.
Pullen has done this before. In 2015, he and his team headed to Nepal to help find bodies trapped in the rubble caused by a 7.8-magnitude earthquake that killed more than 7,000 people.
He’s also been involved in recovery efforts after the similarly-destructive earthquake in Haiti in 2010, as well as in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
“Every time there’s a disaster, we contact the embassies and people in charge and offer our services,” he said. “We usually go down for six to 10 days and just help out as best we can.”
WATCH: (Sept. 6) Hurricane Dorian: What’s next for the Bahamas?
Pullen says the team is doing its best to coordinate where to deploy, citing issues at the Nassau airport due to the storm.
He says he expects the team to come back to Canada next weekend.
The Canadian Armed Forces have provided a military aircraft and a disaster assistance team this week to assist in the search and cleanup effort, along with $500,000 in federal aid.
American government and private teams have also been deployed.
Dorian is expected to make landfall as a Category 2 storm in Nova Scotia on Saturday evening before moving into the Gulf of St. Lawrence, where it is expected to transform into a strong post-tropical storm.
— With files from Robyn Crawford and the Associated Press
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