A crew member fights one of the numerous aggressive 2017 wildfires in the Cariboo Fire Centre. (supplied by BC Wildfire Service)
Improvements to wildfire response were part of a report issued at the UBCM Convention in Vancouver this week from the BC Wildfire Service, Emergency Management BC, and co-chair of the BC Flood and Wildfire Review George Abbott.
The province dealt with back-to-back record-breaking wildfire seasons in 2017 and 2018, which centered around most of Northern BC.
The report touched on overhauling how the province attacks wildfires, which would include new airplanes and a higher level of training for firefighters.
Abbott said a lot of the resources the province currently employs has been around for decades and can still be relevant today with the proper upgrades.
“A lot of the things that we were doing well in the 1970s and 1980s remain very valuable today if those can be wed with 21st Century technology we may have some very, very powerful tools and techniques.”
Abbott adds regional partnerships between the province, local authorities, First Nations and residents is key when increasing funding and expanding eligibility criteria for the Community Resiliency Initiative Program and the Community Emergency Preparedness Fund.
“It is not possible for people, for organizations or governments to work individually at this. Partnerships are absolutely key in achieving the goals we all want to achieve,” he said.
“Partnerships are central to getting a better handle on fire and flood and I was pleased to see organizations are making some progress there.”
108 recommendations were listed in the report.
The direction of Abbott’s report touched on getting a better handle on communication like the mainstream media and social media to try and get a timely updated message out to the public when a wildfire or flood event occurs.
“We have some climate change issues, some droughts and higher temperatures on average than what we did a hundred years ago and the government needs to take a leading role in helping prepare communities for those fire and flood challenges.”
Other points of the presentation included a major technological overhaul of the provinces 911 system that will allow universal access to 911 services along with the creation of a Prescribed Fire Working Group to create a framework that will allow non-provincial entities to conduct prescribed burns in local areas.
(Files by Brendan Pawliw, MyPGNow)