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

Lake Flashback: Museum preserves future, new hope for a pool, and a murder

Welcome to Lake Flashback. Reporter Sarah Simpson has been combing through old… Continue reading

Cobble Hill man dies in ATV accident south of Nanaimo

Incident happened on backroad Friday night in Nanaimo Lakes area

Drivesmart column: The registered owner is responsible

Have you ever stopped to consider the risk involved in handing your keys over to someone else?

Aquatic Centre renovations starting soon

More space promised for crowded fitness and aquatic areas

Mary Lowther column: Nutrition in our food on the decline

When crops don’t contain the minerals they need, they cannot provide other nutrients we depend on.

VIDEO: Injured bald eagle rescued in B.C. First Nations community

Bird suspected injured in fight, whisked off to Coquitlam rehab

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

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

Toronto Raptors’ Ujiri says conversations about racism can no longer be avoided

Thousands have protested Floyd’s death and repeated police killings of black men across the United States

‘I’m afraid’: Witnesses of wolf attack on senior near Prince Rupert worried about safety

Frank Russ shows where the unprovoked wolf attacked his father

Protesters prepare to rally against racism in front of Vancouver Art Gallery

Rally is in response to the deaths of black Americans and a Toronto woman

Protesters rally against anti-black, Indigenous racism in Toronto

Police estimated the crowd to be between 3,500 and 4,000 and said there was no violence

Feds earmark $1.5M to support recovery of B.C., Indigenous tourism

B.C. money will be split between Vancouver Island and Indigenous tourism

‘We’re sick of it’: Anger over police killings shatters U.S.

Tens of thousands marched to protest the death of George Floyd

Most Read