Cranbrook Fire and Emergency Services is pursuing a $25,000 grant that, if successful, will go towards purchasing firefighting gear used specifically for wildfire response, rather than structure fires.
Scott Driver, the acting director of CFES, told council that the fire department has been increasingly responding to wildfire events over the last few years, given that the province has recently experienced the two of the worst seasons on record.
“What we’re seeing over the last number of years, with the change in the wildfire situation in British Columbia, is an increasing demand for our services in the wildfire-urban interface,” said Driver, in an interview with media afterwards. “So we’re seeing increased frequency requests from the province and increased duration of events we attend at, so the fires are getting more frequent, they’re getting worse and our staff are in need of some more wildfire appropriate gear that’s dedicated to that service alone.”
Driver added that CFES has cross-utilized equipment on wildfire response calls, but noted that having the appropriate gear is important for safety reasons.
“There is better equipment out there that helps our staff work longer, do a better job, then recover faster, so that’s what we’re going after with this particular grant fund,” he said.
Driver added that the fire department is more geared towards shorter fire events with high-intensity heat such as a structure fire, whereas they don’t necessarily have the proper equipment to best respond to longer-duration wildfire events.
“With the increase in duration and size of wildfires, we’re noticing that the province is looking to the municipalities and fire departments across the province more frequently with more of a first-response role in that wildfire-urban interface,” Driver said. “We’re happy to assist because it does protect the community, but it does create a few unique challenges to the municipal fire service.”
The application is being made through a funding stream from the province, which is administered by the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM).