Why not just anyone can show up and help fight B.C. wildfires | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Why not just anyone can show up and help fight B.C. wildfires

The Skaha Creek wildfire is the latest fire to break out this summer.
Image Credit: Dan Walton
August 31, 2021 - 7:30 AM

As devastating wildfires destroyed home in places like Monte Lake, Estamont and Killiney Beach, there has been some criticism about the resources B.C. Wildfire Service has mustered during one of the worst wildfire seasons in B.C.’s history.

At a town meeting last week for the people evacuated from the west side of Okanagan Lake because of the White Rock Creek wildfire, residents wanted to know why some contractors or individuals were not allowed to help with firefighting efforts.

READ MORE: Fire tore into Killiney Beach at 80 metres a minute

“B.C. Wildfire services has many resource needs during the wildfire season,” was the written response read out at the virtual meeting. “It seeks out skilled workers throughout the province through contractors.

“Individuals, at any time, who wish to apply for work with a particular contractor can apply to a contractor directly and any contractor needs, during wildfire season, are posted on B.C. Bid so, if you are a contractor and you have services that would be useful for B.C. Wildfire, you go to B.C. Bid.”

READ MORE: 'We have nothing': Monte Lake residents share frustrations after destructive White Rock Lake wildfire

In July, a company out of Fort St. John, called Safeguard, told iNFOnews.ca about the walls of water it can put up around properties to protect them from wildfires.

But they were not hired by B.C. Wildfires to help with this summer’s fires.

READ MORE: This company wants to make it rain on B.C. wildfires

“Currently, the B.C. Wildfire Service is working with two vendors who provide structure protection support through mass water movement systems,” B.C. Wildfire said in a July 22 emailed statement. “These vendors followed the solicitation process and provided equipment and price options for potential deployment.”

In other words, it seems Safeguard did not follow the bidding process so were not hired as places like Monte Lake and Killiney Beach/Estamont burnt.

“The B.C. Wildfire Service has procurement process’ in place," reads the wildfire service email. “Vendors who provide mass water movement equipment, are welcome to submit their information through the vendor solicitation process for consideration.”

One of the key requirements for Safeguard to be successful is a large enough water source, preferably within one kilometre of where they’re working. Structures burned all the way down to Okanagan Lake.

As for individuals who want to fight fires, B.C. Wildfire had this to say at the town hall meeting.

“To sign up in advance of the fire season as an emergency firefighter, please reach out to your local fire centre or zone.”


To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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