Letter: Modified response needed for fires

Long-time forester George Benwell Sr. writes to say the BC Wildfire Service needs to re-consider its initial response to forest fires.

Editor,

The current wildfire situation in British Columbia, and indeed that of many recent active years, should result in sober reflections as to the efficiency of wildfire control. Practical and responsible action is based on two criteria — early detection and fast initial attack, both of which are presently questionable.

In respect to detection, aerial patrols are used almost exclusively and while they have the capability of covering large areas, they have the vulnerability of missing small smoldering fires which are not evident. It would therefore appear logical to activate existing lookouts in high or extreme hazard supplemented by ground patrols, and that this latter agency have the discretion of fast initial attack on accessible incidents.

Regarding initial attack, one should reflect on the following enumerated points:

1. Why are industry and contact crews considered ineligible to conduct initial attack when the essence of control action is rapid response?

2. In the case of a woodlot licensee or operator in occupation, it is required that action be taken on a wildfire within one kilometer of the designated boundary. Why not two kilometers or more if the fire is accessible and posses an immediate threat whereby a substantial loss might be prevented?

3. To improve initial attack it would seem logical that resident rural crews of three or more persons be organized at the start of each fire season. This would be comparable to the very practical fire warden crews operating in the earlier years. The present dispatch of crews by the fire centres is too cumbersome and detracts from initial attack time. Additionally, priorities can change on very short notice so flexibility and initiative are critical.

4. It appears evident that the wildfire branch offers the issue of liability as a reason to exclude contract crews from independent initial attack. One must however speculate on the increased liability associated with a major incident relative to that encountered on a small fire.

Woodlot licensees and other forest operators with their exposure to wildfire situations must be on the front line to offer critical observation to improve control actions. This is particularly important to those holding area based forest tenures as opposed to volume-based systems. To sit by and submit to bureaucratic ideology is irresponsible and, unless some procedures are modified, losses to our licensees and the forest resource with related values will continue.

George .L. Bennwell Sr.

Revelstoke, B.C.

Note: George Benwell Sr. is a forester with more than 60 years experience in the industry.

 

Just Posted

Social media flooded with love for woman found dead on Kelowna beach

“We lost a sister. Because that is what we are it is a sisterhood and I can’t help but feel anything but sadness.”

Revelstoke volunteers needed for Patient Voices Network

There will be an information session next week

BC Timber Sales in Arrow Lakes passes audit

An audit of BC Timber Sales and timber sale licence holders in… Continue reading

Letter: Caribou recovery and the Section 80 application

There are three herds in our Revelstoke Planning Unit

Rain to continue for Revelstoke today

Road events from Drive BC as of 7:40 a.m.: Highway 1 east:… Continue reading

VIDEO: Okanagan fire victim Amy Hansen speaks out on the loss of her four pets

A gofundme page has been started for Hansen, with $1,140 raised of a $5000 goal to help her rebuild

WATCH: South Vancouver Island shooting an ‘isolated and targeted’ incident, say police

One person in custody, another fled following shooting and crash on West Shore

Woe, Canada: Bruins down Maple Leafs 5-1 in Game 7

No Canadian teams left in Stanley Cup playoffs

Defence accuses officer of ‘incompetence’ in trial for B.C. man accused in daughters’ murder

Double murder trial for the Victoria father accused of killing his two young daughters continues

Should B.C. parents receive money if they make sure their kids are vaccinated?

New survey looks at public opinion around government’s role in forcing immunizations

Okanagan history in pictures

Grand opening of downtown Vernon Safeway store from 1965

Okanagan firefighter steps up to challenge

Andrew Haak will be one of hundreds of firefighters taking part in the Firefighter Stairclimb Challenge in Calgary on May 5

SPCA investigating hen cull at Shuswap egg farm

Egg farm regulator says they are confident cull at was done properly

West Kelowna fire under control

A fire broke out just above Bear Creek Provincial Park Monday

Most Read