NEW CUTLINE A gradd fire behind a home on Bainsview Heights in 2019 is a stark reminder that everyone needs to be extra vigilant as we approach summer fire conditions. (Sooke news Mirror files)

Sooke Fire-Rescue responded to a grass fire behind a home on Basinview Heights. (Tim Collins / Sooke News Mirror)

Sooke Fire Rescue prepares for long hot summer

Sooke Fire Rescue is kicking into high gear in preparation for the summer fire season.

“It’s that time of the year where we start ramping up wildfire training,” said Sooke Fire Rescue Chief Kenn Mount. “We’re getting equipment checked and starting to schedule priority training.”

It includes “engine boss” training, reviewing the latest information from the fire commissioner, and working with the B.C. Wildfire Service on the best practices for helping out elsewhere if needed. That means assessing members who have been trained for that and have received their COVID vaccine to determine who can respond to a serious situation elsewhere in the province if the situation arises, Mount said.

Sooke Fire Rescue works on seasonal preparedness with other departments on the Island, representatives from the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area, the RCMP and other agencies.

Every year, usually in July or August, fire departments deal with extreme restrictions, and questions typically arise around blasting, fireworks and chainsaws, for example, Mount said. “Smokers tossing butts is always a concern because of the number of fires started that way. Even if we get to them quickly, they’re always a drain on resources.”

A major proactive measure regarding overall fire safety revolves around Sooke Fire Rescue’s application for a grant from the Union of B.C. Municipalities for funding for a B.C. FireSmart coordinator.

“That would provide lots of boots on the ground type work, including FireSmart assessments for residential homes,” Mount said. “We would be able to prioritize high-risk areas and make recommendations to homeowners. It would also enable us to pursue grants for vegetation control and fuel mitigation strategies.”

Mount expects to find out if the application has been successful soon.

In the meantime, people can take simple steps to safeguard their homes, such as moving firewood at least 10 to 30 metres from the house and ensuring there’s no vegetation, trees or branches hanging over the house.

Mount encourages the public to follow the guidelines at firesmartbc.ca to reduce the risk of fires, especially during the summer.

“It’s simple things that make a wildfire more controllable if it approaches the community,” Mount said.

Water access has improved significantly since 2017 with the addition of a superior tanker shuttle service.

“We can move water almost the same as having access to a hydrant,” Mount said. “We also work closely with the CRD, and they have been great advising us of new hydrants with more development.”

Ongoing improvements to Highway 14 will also positively affect fire protection, with homeowners closer to Station 2 possibly benefiting from lower insurance rates. ”We anticipate residents on Connie and Manzer may be in line for some discount,” Mount said.

Sooke Fire Rescue is employing an alternative training schedule because of the impact of COVID-19. Training is currently broken down into smaller groups on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and Saturday and Sunday mornings instead of one large group on Thursday evenings, as was the past.

COVID has impacted recruiting as well, Mount noted.

“Longstanding retention is always a challenge, with people moving out of the community, career changes and life changes,” he said. “It’s more difficult to implement new volunteers while maintaining a bubble. It’s a little challenging with the fire station attached to the city hall. We have to be extra vigilant to keep staff and volunteers safe, as opposed to standalone fire departments.”

Although the department hasn’t been able to recruit for two years, Sooke Fire Rescue has some excellent recruits.

“They’re young and eager, and it’s great to have several female recruits as well. We have another recruitment class planned for 2022, but that’s up in the air like everything else.”



editor@sookenewsmirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

SookeWest Shore

Just Posted

Plans to restore the ecology of Sidney Island include the eradication of fallow deer first introduced in the early 1900s. (Parks Canada/Submitted)
Parks Canada proposal calls for eradication of fallow deer on Sidney Island

Proposed eradication part of a larger plan to restore local ecology but obstacles remain ahead

A dramatic four-vehicle crash at the intersection of Government and Herald streets brings standstill in downtown Victoria on May 18. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
UPDATE: Downtown Victoria intersection reopens after 4 car crash injures passengers, slowed traffic

Traffic impacted after crash closes Government and Herald streets

The entrance to one of the tiny homes in Victoria’s Tiny Home Village. (Kiernan Green/News Staff)
Victoria Tiny Home Village resident evicted for lighting small fire

No damage or injuries, but zero-tolerance rule stands

A forest of dance-protesters outside the BC Legislature on April 11. These participants were doing the Dance for the Ancient Forest in support of the Fairy Creek blockade and against old-growth logging. (Zoë Ducklow/News Staff)
Arrests begin at Fairy Creek blockade on Vancouver Island

Five protesters arrested as RCMP begin to enforce injunction

A prowling coyote proved no match for a stray black cat who chased it out of a Port Moody parking lot Friday, May 14. (Twitter/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Little but fierce: Cat spotted chasing off coyote by Port Moody police

The black cat is seen jumping out from under a parked car and running the wild animal out of a vacant lot

A thunderstorm pictured in Fraser Valley in 2021. (Black Press Media/Jaimie Grafstrom)
Wildfire concerns sparked after 320+ lightning strikes blasted B.C. yesterday

Approximately one-quarter of the province is currently listed as being at moderate risk of fire

A restaurant server on White Rock’s Marine Drive serves customers on a roadside patio. Indoor dining and recreational travel bans have been in effect since late March in B.C. (Peace Arch News)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate falls to 411 cases Tuesday

360 people in hospital, up slightly, two more deaths

The Banff National Park entrance is shown in Banff, Alta., Tuesday, March 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Minister asks Canadians to camp carefully in national parks as season starts

Kitchen shelters in Banff National Park closed, trails on Vancouver Island will only be one-way

Names of those aboard the ship are seen at Komagata Maru monument in downtown Vancouver, on Tuesday, May 18, 2021. The City of Vancouver has issued an apology for its racist role in denying entry to 376 passengers aboard a ship that was forced to return to India over a century ago. Mayor Kennedy Stewart says discrimination by the city had “cruel effects” on the Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims aboard the Komagata Maru, which arrived in Burrard Inlet on May 23, 1914. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver mayor says sorry for city’s role in turning away South Asians in 1914

Kennedy Stewart has declared May 23 as the annual Komagata Maru Day of Remembrance

A crew of WestCoast WILD Adventures employees tackled an onslaught of litter left at the ‘Locks of Love’ fence at Wally Creek on May 2. (Anne-Marie Gosselin photo)
Litter woes consume popular ‘Locks of Love’ fence on B.C.’s Pacific Rim

Popular view spot near Tofino plagued by people hanging masks and other unwanted garbage

A game camera near the Klahoose reservation on Cortes Island caught this glimpse of a truck leaving the woodlot at around 2:30 on Sunday morning. Photo supplied by Klahoose First Nation
Indigenous cutblock vandalised on Cortes Island, anti-logging element suspected

Ribbons pulled down, gravel poured into gas tank at Klahoose First Nation site

Announced Tuesday, May 18 by Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth, the province added gyms, dance and fitness studios to its list of places where face coverings are mandatory. (AP/Steven Senne)
Masks now required at all times inside B.C. gyms, including during workouts

Those who disobey could be subject to a $230 fine

Reinhard “Bud” Loewen of Abbotsford has now been charged with 21 counts of sexual assault related to his massage business. (Facebook photo)
Former Abbotsford masseur now faces 21 counts of sexual assault

Bud Loewen of Bud’s Massage Therapy initally faced three charges

Most Read