Vernon Fire Chief David Lind says they are well prepared to handle this extreme heat.
In an update to council, Lind said while the department has one firefighter out with injury and Deputy Fire Chief Dwight Seymour just accepted a position with the Kelowna Fire Department, Vernon is “fairly healthy” in terms of staffing ahead of a hot summer.
“We have good strength, good mutual aid programs in place and well connected with forestry resources at the base close by,” he told members of council on June 28.
“We are well prepared to deal with the season,” he said. “But it’s an extreme season that we’re expecting.”
Lind was in chambers Monday to have council authorize the expenditure of up to $100,000 for the temporary strengthening of emergency deployment at the Predator Ridge Fire Station.
The budget bump will help cover overtime and payroll to meet the increased need brought on by extreme wildfire conditions.
“Residents in the Predator Ridge area may notice career and auxiliary firefighters working and training out of Station 3 at various times when the fire danger rating is listed as extreme, particularly during the hottest part of the day when fire behaviour can be more aggressive,” Lind said.
In addition to the increased budget, the Vernon Fire Rescue Services has recently acquired a Structure Protection Unit (SPU). This cargo trailer, equipped with pumps, hoses and sprinkler heads, can easily be installed on a structure’s eavestroughs to keep several buildings wet for a prolonged period of time.
The department also recently put a new Wildland Urban Interface truck. This bush truck is designed to go off-road and provide resources where larger fire trucks can’t gain access.
“Having these new resources makes our department more agile in its emergency response and gives our firefighters the tools to handle a variety of larger-scale or wildland-urban interface events,” Lind said.
While the temperatures are steadily increasing amid a heat wave, Lind reminded the public that sky lanterns and fireworks aren’t OK, “especially now, but for the folks still doing it, please quit it.”
An unusual provincewide fire ban on campfires goes into effect Wednesday, June 30, at noon. The use of fireworks, sky lanterns and chimneys and tiki torches are also prohibited.
Anyone found in violation of the ban can be fined $1,150 or face up to one year in jail and be ordered to pay firefighting costs if the fire sparks a wildfire.
Banned in Vernon too, those found in violation could be fined up to $1,000 through the city’s bylaws.
The prohibition does not apply to CSA-rated or ULC-rated cooking stoves that use gas, propane or briquettes, or to a portable campfire apparatus that uses briquettes, liquid or gaseous fuel, so long as the height of the flame is less than 15 centimetres.
The City of Vernon offered thanks to the public for helping to prevent wildfires. To report a wildfire, call the BC Wildfire Service at 1-800-663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cellphone. For the latest information on current wildfire activity, burning restrictions and more, visit bcwildfire.ca.