Canadian Firefighter Magazine

B.C. communities focus on wildfire resiliency and readiness

By Columbia Basin Trust   

News Equipment fire department firefighters training wildfire

Mar. 21, 2024, Kootenays, B.C. – Wildfires can sweep in at any moment. To make sure that they’re prepared, small, rural communities and First Nations around the Columbia Basin are taking steps like completing planning assessments related to wildfire resiliency, purchasing wildfire prevention and protection equipment and training their firefighters. Currently, 43 such projects are receiving support from Columbia Basin Trust.

“Over the years, Basin communities have worked hard to be ready for various wildfire situations through effective on-the-ground actions such as planning, wildfire prevention and community capacity building,” said Hannah Holden, Senior Manager, Delivery of Benefits, Columbia Basin Trust. “Every additional planning step taken, piece of equipment purchased or skill learned increases their capacity to prepare for wildfires, so we’re pleased to provide support in this way.”

The projects might involve buying equipment like chainsaws or hoses or offering training courses like first aid or wildfire fighting. They may also include doing essential planning, such as performing a community structure protection inventory or focusing on water availability and delivery.

Since fall 2022, 70 such projects have received over $3.2 million in Trust support.

The Regional District of Central Kootenay is purchasing a generator and wildfire prevention and protection equipment to be used by the Balfour Volunteer Fire Department.

“Equipping firefighters with sufficient equipment allows the fire department to increase effectiveness in providing fire suppression and incident mitigation within the Balfour–Harrop community,” said Leanne Proft, Administrative Coordinator for the Regional District of Central Kootenay’s Fire Services. “In turn, this leads to reduced damage or loss of structures, as well as increased safety levels for citizens and first responders.”

The District of Elkford is purchasing a trailer, mobile sprinklers and other wildfire prevention and protection equipment to be used by Elkford Fire Rescue.

“Should the need arise in interface areas, the trailer will have the ability to offer sprinkler protection from wildfires to the residents of Elkford and surrounding municipalities,” said Enzo Calla, Director of Fire and Emergency Services. “Elkford Fire Rescue exists to enhance the quality of life within our community by ensuring life safety and protecting property with minimal impact to the environment, which this additional equipment will help facilitate.”

yaqan nuɁkiy is purchasing a trailer, pump package and a long list of wildfire prevention and protective equipment, plus providing training to its firefighters.

“yaqan nuɁkiy community members have expressed concerns regarding the risk wildfires have on the safety of their families, homes and schools, etc., and the majority of our homes and lands are classified as extreme fire risk,” said Victoria Dekker, Community Sustainability Planner. “We have been very successful with increasing wildfire resiliency, response and worker capacity through previous projects, and are excited to keep the momentum going by purchasing and training with this prescription-burning equipment and storage trailer.”

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