By: Lt. Ryan K. Smith
It is that time of year again when the campers are pouring in, sun is shining and the fire danger is slowly creeping up.
Every year the Lake Cowichan Fire Department responds to brush and wildfires near, or in, the town. Being an urban interface area, where we border large sections of forest, the danger is high that we could have significant damage should a wildfire make it into town.
It was only several years ago that wildfire above the Tata Satellite station had water bombers and helicopters buzzing though the air as well as municipal fire crews, Ministry of Forests and other agencies on the ground fighting the fire. This fire reached within 1,700 meters from the nearest homes.
The most significant interface fire in the province was the Okanagan Mountain Park fire in which 4,050 persons were evacuated and 238 homes were lost and or damaged. Another significant fire was the 2011 Slave Lake fire in Alberta which evacuated over 7,000 thousand persons and destroyed a third of the town. Just imagine loosing a third of our town — approximately everything on the north side of the car bridge. It is just something we could not imagine. Even though many fires are caused by lightning, on average, most of the fires on Vancouver Island are caused by people and this is the case for the majority of large and significant fires in the province of B.C.
One of the first things you can do to prevent interface fires is to ensure you comply with all burning and open fire regulations in the Town or CVRD, as well as comply with all restrictions and bans.
The second thing you can do is ensure your home is fire smart by following the Fire Smart manual, links to the information can be found on our website, lakecowichanfire.com.
Several times a year LCFD responds to bush and road side fires caused by cigarette butts being discarded improperly, by persons out for a walk or driving down the road. If you are a smoker, please ensure you dispose and extinguish your cigarettes in a safe and proper manner.
One of the most popular pass-times around the lake is sitting by the camp/cooking fire on a summer’s evening — allowed in the Town of Lake Cowichan without a permit. Cooking fires, as per the bylaw, cannot have a surface area of greater than four square feet and must be contained in a fire pit. It is also required that there is adequate supervision and you are capable of extinguishing the fire. You must also comply with all campfire bans. Offenders can face fines for violation. Never leave the fire without adult supervision.
When extinguishing your campfire you need to do so by stirring water into the ashes until it is cold to the touch. Hot coals can reignite the fire.
The LCFD hopes that you enjoy your summer but please keep it beautiful.
The recent Superior Tanker Shuttle Service accreditation for the Lake Cowichan Fire Department means that the department is now able to deliver 900 litres of water per minute for up to two hours to those residents who live 8 kilometres by road from the fire station or 5 km past the last fire hydrant. This could mean significant savings on home insurance for those who live over 1,000 feet or 300 metres beyond the last Fire Underwriters recognized hydrant, up to 8km.
Those already within 300 metres of access to a fire hydrant will not see any savings.