B.C. First Nations brace for another bad wildfire season, train to battle flames
In the wake of B.C.’s worst year for wildfires, a training session for remote First Nations has taken on new significance.
Over the past three days, representatives from several B.C. First Nations gathered in Esquimalt for an annual training seminar.
Volunteer fire crews took part in live fire scenarios, brushed up on fire extinguisher techniques and learned new skills to prepare for and take on wildfires.
The three-day firefighting competition and training workshop is put on by B.C.’s First Nations’ Emergency Services Society.
"We have a lot of communities that are land locked,” F.N.E.S.S. spokesmen Kynan O’Rourke told CTV News. “A lot of communities that are isolated where they are the only emergency service."
2017 was a historic and devastating year for wildfires in British Columbia. Recorded as the worst season ever, last summer has shifted the tone of training this year – making a distinct swing towards wildfire preparedness.
"If the community and the fire department are ready for it the probability of a good outcome is through the roof,” said wildfire training expert Darren Hutchinson. “If they're not it's a gamble."
On Wednesday, First Nation fire crews trained to help homeowners prepare for hot ash raining down on homes. Hutchison says if homeowners simply move fire wood and patio furniture away from a structure and frequently clean gutters, the likelihood of a spark-up is significantly diminished.
Sixty Indigenous firefighters from across B.C. took part in the annual training session hosted in Esquimalt.