A photo taken by the BC Wildfire Service

Pandemic forces BC Wildfire Service to adapt as it prepares for burning season

Many staff are completing other training at home

  • May. 11, 2020 1:21 p.m.

-Kamloops this Week

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the BC Wildfire Service is taking some extra precautions when it comes to preventing human-caused wildfires, including the implementation of category 2 and category 3 burning prohibitions.

“We’re not permitting any backyard burning, including burn barrels, chimeneas, fireworks, those sorts of things,” BC Wildfire Service fire information officer Kyla Fraser said, noting that, although such bans are typical in the spring, the current prohibition did go in earlier than usual, on April 16 this year. Last year, the ban was enacted in mid-June.

Campfires, however, are still permitted.

“I’m not sure where we’ll go with that in the future,” Fraser said.

Day use of provincial parks will soon be allowed on May 14 as B.C. moves to phase 2 of its pandemic response to reopening the economy.

READ MORE: B.C. prepares for emergencies, evacuations under COVID-19

In terms of operations and training at the BC Wildfire Service, Fraser said firefighters were all hired on time.

“I think we’ve surprisingly still been able to do really well in onboarding new staff,” she said.

Many staff are completing other training at home, while new firefighters did their training in their own fire zones rather than travel to a central bootcamp this year.

The service is also limiting its non-fire-related field activity and working from home wherever and whenever possible.

When fire crews hit the ground in the coming months, they will do so with extra precautions, including new protocols limiting how many can travel in the same vehicle at a time and wearing face masks when travelling in close quarters, such as in helicopters.

“We also have had to revisit how we’re going to do fire camps this year. Obviously, that’s a lot of people congregating in one area, so we’re making sure we have enough sanitation,” Fraser said, noting fire camps will be avoided if at all possible, not only for the safety of fire crews, but for that of communities near which they are formed.

“We understand there are concerns, especially in more rural communities, that they might not have a current case of COVID, and where they might be concerned with our staff bringing that into communities,” she said.

READ MORE: B.C. blaze that destroyed homes near Squamish doubles in size: wildfire service

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

bc wildfires

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

VIDEO: Neighbours help Sidney woman mark 103rd birthday with surprise parade

Barbara Chorlton celebrates her ‘best birthday so far’

Racism is here too, say Victoria’s black community leaders

White Victorians have role to play in combatting systems of oppression, prejudice

Shortage of foreign workers costs Saanich Peninsula berry farmer thousands

Gobind Farms says hiring local has been difficult during pandemic

Pedestrian, cycling overpass now open at McKenzie Interchange

Bridge connects Portage Road, Galloping Goose Regional Trail

VIDEO: B.C. dentist gets grand welcome home after two months in hospital fighting COVID-19

Michael Chow was given a surprise send off by hospital staff and ‘welcome home’ from neighbours

‘Like finding a needle in a haystack’: Ancient arrowhead discovered near Williams Lake

The artifact is believed to be from the Nesikip period between 7,500 BP to 6,000 BP

Indigenous families say their loved ones’ deaths in custody are part of pattern

Nora Martin joins other Indigenous families in calling for a significant shift in policing

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

Indigenous chief alleges RCMP beat him during arrest that began over expired licence plate

Athabasca Chipewyan Chief Allan Adam calling for independent investigation

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

UPDATED: Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park arrested

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

POLL: Are you sending your children back to school this month?

Classrooms looked decidedly different when students headed back to school for the… Continue reading

Most Read