Volunteer firefighters are community heroes

After one of the worst summers for fires in recent memory, many people have a whole new appreciation for the destructive power of fire.

After one of the worst summers for fires in recent memory, many people have a whole new appreciation for the destructive power of fire.

Many also have a whole new appreciation for the service our volunteer firefighters provide to us.

Or they should, at any rate.

While many of the bigger brush and forest fires end up under the purview of the B.C. Forest Service (who do great work in what is often tough terrain!) the initial assessment and triage often falls to our local volunteers, as it did when a fire hit Highway 18 near the golf course.

Our firefighters are true community heroes, jumping to the call at all hours of the day, whether it’s 2 a.m. or supper time.

They routinely save people’s lives, and protect their belongings.

Then there’s the training time and community education that goes with the position.

Sadly, we also saw this summer that there are a distressing number of people who have no respect for anyone, causing fires either through self-absorbed and idiotic carelessness or deliberate criminal intent.

Whether it’s dropping cigarette butts onto tinder dry grass at the roadside or into the leaves on a forest path when there hasn’t been rain in three months, or whether they decide in spite of all of the regulations it’s okay if they have a campfire.

Or perhaps it’s the moron setting off fireworks at 11 p.m. because hey, they’re doing it in the middle of the road and they’ve done it plenty before so they know exactly what that cheapo firecracker they got from the shifty looking guy in the trailer will do.

What could possibly go wrong?

It’s impossible to police everyone all the time, so we rely on people showing a modicum of good judgement and we hope in the future that those who didn’t this summer have learned a lesson and will do better from now on. Luck only lasts for so long, after all.

But now we’re heading into winter and the ground is cooler and greener and some rain has made things less dire.

But we’re also at the time of year that people start to light up their fireplaces against the cool evenings and mornings, and fire up the woodstoves.

Have you had your chimney checked? Did you clean things out? It’s important to do so because fire isn’t just a summertime concern. In winter, house fires can be even more likely as we light candles, and plug in space heaters.

Now is a good time, too, to review that escape plan with your family, so that if a fire does start, the most important things — the people you love — are as safe as you can make them.

We’d like to give our volunteer firefighters a break for a few months, what do you say?