Are you prepared for the worst? If not, now is the perfect time to take action.
May 1 marked the beginning of Emergency Preparedness Week in Canada, an annual event that brings together fire and emergency services across the country to educate Canadians about wildfire and other risks.
Making sure private properties and municipalities across the Sea to Sky are FireSmarted is key to preventing a worst-case scenario in the event of another bad fire season in B.C.
Residents can help FireSmart their neighbourhoods by holding clean-up events, which can be held in partnership with your municipality.
Sheri Buswell is one such Whistler resident that wanted to prepare her strata in Creekside for potential fires. She has organized a clean-up event happening on May 7.
“With Lytton the way that it was, I just like to increase awareness of our susceptibility to something similar happening in Whistler and for people to take advantage of the services offered by the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) to help them better prepare themselves and their properties for a catastrophic incident that could potentially happen in Whistler,” said Buswell.
Buswell encourages Whistler residents to make use of RMOW FireSmart resources to get their private residences prepared for any possibility.
The FireSmart event Buswell is putting on is just one of dozens that have happened over the last five years, and one of many that are planned to come.
“We’ve supported over 100 of these projects in our valley, and usually the groups are sort of 12 to 15 people that come out,” said RMOW FireSmart coordinator Scott Rogers.
“We have worked with groups as small as four people and as large as 60. Sometimes these events happen on a single day, sometimes they happen over a weekend, and sometimes they happen over a longer period of time where people continue to do work,” said Rogers.
“Most of the work follows guidance that’s been given to the homeowners from a FireSmart assessment. So usually, that’s the best place to start, to get good information and some direction. We usually book these six months to a year in advance. And on average, I would say we probably support between 18 and 24 of these projects annually.”
Pemberton will also be hosting a Wildfire and Emergency Preparedness Day on May 7. The Pemberton event will feature workshops from Pemberton Fire Rescue, BC Wildfire Service, Pemberton FireSmart, Pemberton Search and Rescue, BC Ambulance and the Village of Pemberton.
Residents will be able to take advantage of the popular free onsite chipper, where people can bring branches, shrubs and clean vegetation and have it chipped right in front of their eyes. There will also be family-friendly activities, prizes and even free potato donuts.
Find more info and resources at whistler.ca/firesmart.
SLRD SEES FIRST BIG WILDFIRE OF 2022
Over the Easter long weekend, while many families were hunting for eggs and enjoying fantastic weather, the Seton Lake Volunteer Fire Department (SLVFD) was called to attend to an out-of-control fire, marking an early start to the 2022 wildfire season in B.C.
The April 16 blaze began as a controlled burn above the community of Shalalth, according to the SLFVD, but quickly got out of control.
“The fact that it lit up like that, it should have never happened [at] this time of year,” said volunteer firefighter Terrance Kosikar. “I’ve been a firefighter for Whistler Fire Rescue for seven years and been a member up here volunteering for 15 years, and I’ve never seen anything like that in April.”
While the fire was relatively small at just 8.5 hectares, it could be a worrying sign of things to come. According to Environment and Climate Change Canada, this coming summer is expected to be another hot one, with above-average temperatures expected across British Columbia and the Sea to Sky.
In preparation for the coming fire season, the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District’s Areas C and D have both adopted new Community Wildfire Resiliency Plans.
Kosikar wants to remind people that every person can help with the fight against wildfires.
“There’s lots of things people can do to prevent their fires from taking off, their houses from burning down, [and] the whole Sea to Sky corridor from lighting up,” he said.
“That actually starts now, which means raking your property, all the dead leaves and everything ... getting stuff off of your roofs, moving your jerry cans and propane tanks away from your property, your house. There’s many things that we can be doing to prepare for [the coming fire season].”
Find more tips and stay up to date on the wildfire situation in B.C. at bcwildfire.ca.