Steve Vatcher, first lieutenant and fire risk manager for the Lake Cowichan Fire Department, handed out awards to the enthusiastic members of six local neighbourhoods.
They were the first six communities on Vancouver Island to be certified FireSmart, he told them during a ceremony at Lake Cowichan’s council chambers on March 29.
The idea behind FireSmart is to reduce the danger of fires in “interface areas”, where neighbourhoods are backed by wild forest land. It takes education and effort to reduce risks from wood piles, careless handling of waste wood, and much more.
Each of the neighbourhoods had earned their right to be called FireSmart communities by following the rules. They included Woodland Shores, The Slopes, Sunny Beach, Lambs Hill, Lake Cowichan First Nation, and Brookside Village.
Both Doug Knott, Lake Cowichan’s fire chief, and Steve Vatcher are local FireSmart representatives trained by Partners in Protection and FireSmart Canada.
“Lake Cowichan is leading the way again,” Vatcher said.
In addition, Knott was honoured with a plaque from the BC Fire Commissioner thanking the department for their assistance in fighting the wildfires in the B.C. Interior in the summer of 2017.
After getting the award from Lake Cowichan’s Mayor Ross Forrest, Knott gave an example of the enthusiasm and hard work of Cowichan Lake’s volunteers.
“There was Greg Smith. I told him we might go. He went to work at three o’clock in the morning. Somehow I found him on the radio. He was in the hall around noon and he was on the three o’clock ferry. They went overnight. They thought they were going to Williams Lake but the guys at Cache Creek were standing on the road exhausted. All the crew were standing there waiting for any truck that went by. They were pretty helpless. The next six trucks, I think, stopped there. The guys that got to go, it was a real eye-opener for us.”