Fire departments, road contractors among those changing with the drier times

Fire departments, road contractors among those changing with the drier times
Drier conditions mean rural fire departments are needing more equipment than they did 10 years ago.

As conditions get drier, rural fire departments on Vancouver Island have had to increase the amount of equipment they carry in order to respond to wildfires.

Ten years ago, many fire departments didn’t even have structure protection units, but these are becoming a normal operation for rural fire departments on Vancouver Island.

The units carry hoses, sprinklers and pumps to protect structures such as homes if there is a wildfire nearby.

Many departments have also added another tool in the fight against wildfires, some duty officer trucks now carry water for rapid attacks of wildfires.

“This [truck] is ready to go, it’s got a pump in it with 180 gallons of water in the tank,” said Oyster River Fire Chief Bruce Green. “So now we can do rapid attack to fires in the bush and knock them down when they’re small whereas ten years ago that really wasn’t heard of.”

Green is also the Regional Rural Fire Chief in the Comox Valley and said the goal is to cut down on as many human-caused fires as possible because the hottest month is still to come.

The Comox Valley Regional District has now enacted a High-Risk Activities ban, which applies to many industrial practices and homeowners as well. Two examples of spark producing activities are running a chainsaw and running a grinder in the bush.

“If you want to cut wood on your gravel driveway or something like that, that is fine but we know now the bush is tinder dry and one spark from a chainsaw if you hit a rock or something could start a forest fire,” Green said.

  • More information on the High-Risk Activity bylaw can be found here

If your gravel road is graded by a contractor like Mainroad, expect it to be bumpy as long as it stays hot and dry.

According to the company, graders can cause fires by producing sparks.

“So within our business you can create sparks any time you’re banging metal on rock so one thing with gravel roads is people get a bit concerned about washboarded roads but they have to realize we’re really reducing our grading this time of year because of the sparks it can create,” said Mainroad North Island general manager Chris Cowley.

A few pieces of equipment in Mainroad yards on the Island might be staying where they are for awhile as long as there is no rain.

“We try to get our mowing done before any potential shutdown,” Cowley said. “Any of our activities that could cause fire hazards we’re trying to do a head of time whereas some of that stuff maybe we used to do in August we’re going to now start scheduling it in April.”

Dean StoltzDean Stoltz

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