In what Ian Morrison called a “smokin’ hot deal”, the Cowichan Valley Regional District introduced its newest piece of firefighting equipment on July 10.
The $104,000 type 2 structural-protection unit will give the CVRD’s fire departments a much better ability to lessen the damage of interface fires in the future.
The unit is designed to be deployed during interface fires to dampen roofs, buildings and areas around structures to help prevent sparks and embers from igniting.
The unit, which has four high-pressure pumps, more than 130 assorted sprinklers, about four kilometres of hoses of various sizes and protective clothing among its gear, is capable of protecting up to 35 homes simultaneously.
It’s the first asset of its kind in the region.
Morrison, chairman of the CVRD, said the unit is not just meant to protect homes, but CVRD assets and infrastructure as well during an interface fire.
“After the board gave permission for staff to acquire the unit, they sharpened their pencils and managed to get us a great deal,” he said.
“We hope to get more of them. While it’s not designed to extinguish fires, it provides an additional layer of proactive protection when we see wildfires approaching communities and threatening our homes, businesses and public infrastructure.”
Following the wildfires in 2003 that devastated the interior of the province, the auditor general of B.C. conducted a review, with a strong recommendation that local governments and their residents take actions to prevent interface fires and mitigate their risks.
Historical data indicates that the proportion of human-caused fires within the CVRD is substantially greater than that of the province as a whole, accounting for about 90 per cent of ignitions in the area since 1919, versus just 40 per cent province-wide.
Jason deJong, the CVRD’s fire rescue services coordinator, said there are currently only 36 type 2 structural-protection units in the province.
He said the CVRD has added a bunk and a work space, fully equipped with radios and antennas, to allow the unit to stay on scene at a fire for numerous days if required.
“We brought in specialists to train 25 firefighters from 12 fire halls in the Valley on the unit and its equipment, and that team is now prepared to be deployed with the unit when called upon,” deJong said.