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

800 meals donated for Cowichan frontline workers

They were at Cowichan District Hospital on May 25 handing out prepared meals to grateful workers

Cowichan CMHA officials respond to report, probation order

“there are important improvements needed to ensure greater fairness within our housing program.”

Cowichan RCMP remind public to leave dogs chilling at home on hot days

Dogsafe has designed a Dog in a Hot Car Responder Checklist

Editorial: Minimal risk in sending kids back to school

Time to poke our heads out of our comfortable nests and venture out into the world again.

Water in Lake Cowichan just fine, says acting mayor

Tim McGonigle said there is no truth to rumours of water advisories

Mission prison COVID-19 outbreak ends, 9 new cases in B.C.

New positive test at Port Coquitlam care home

List of cancelled Cowichan Valley community events

An ongoing list of events that have been cancelled in the Cowichan Valley due to COVID-19

Man who bound, murdered Vancouver Island teen still a risk to public: parole board

Kimberly Proctor’s killer is still ‘mismanaging emotions,’ has had ‘temper tantrums’

VIDEO: Humpback whales put on quite a show

The ‘playful’ pod lingered by a Campbell River tour operator’s boat for quite some time

Getting hitched at historic B.C. gold rush town still on table during COVID-19 pandemic

Micro-weddings, online visits, offered at Barkerville Historic Town and Park

Stolen gargoyle returns to its perch on central Vancouver Island yard

Petey, a concrete gargoyle statue, was returned by Nanaimo RCMP after being found by city crew

Revelstoke woman finds welcoming letter on her Alberta-registered truck

There have been multiple reports online of vandalism to vehicles with Alberta licence plates

Spirit bear possibly spotted in West Kootenay

A local resident spotted the white-coloured bear while on an evening trail run near Castlegar on May 27

B.C. businesses ‘can’t shoulder burden’ of COVID-19 sick pay

Trudeau’s plan should be tied to federal emergency aid

Most Read