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

Comox Valley board of education approves facility spending plan

Projects include roofing, sewage system upgrade, gym resurfacing

Vancouver Island’s current COVID-19 case count officially hits zero

Of the 130 recorded Island Health cases, five people have died, 125 recovered

Valley artist gifts B.C.’s health officer with symbolic hummingbird

A special connection brought the piece to Dr. Bonnie Henry’s desk in Victoria

Black Lives Matter events planned for Courtenay

Peaceful gatherings are scheduled for Simms Park Friday and Saturday

Arnott taking medical leave as Comox mayor

Coun. Ken Grant will step in a mayor for time being

‘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

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Kelowna Mountie who punched suspect identified, condemned by sister

‘How did he get away with this? How is this justifiable?’

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

More protests are expected through the weekend

Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park at large

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

No charges to be laid against 22 northern B.C. pipeline protesters

Twenty-two people were arrested in February, but Crown has decided not to pursue charges

Plan in place for BC Ferries to start increasing service levels

Ferry corporation reaches temporary service level agreement with province

B.C. starts to see employment return under COVID-19 rules

Jobless rate for young people still over 20% in May

Most Read