With a dry and warm spring behind us, summer has come out in full force with 30 C days, meaning the potential for wildfires has increased.
But Kelowna Fire Department training officer Glenn Paley said his crews are ready with new and improved equipment, techniques and regular training.
“Our crews have practice nights weekly as well as daily training for those on duty,” he said.
“We use different equipment for wildland training … this time of year, we pull all our pumps out. We have small pumps that we can carry.”
With the annual wildland — or bush — training, Paley said they reacquaint crews with the smaller hoses, which are easier to carry and maneuver in wooded settings and uneven terrain.
There are also small water pumps that crews need to carry, which can use creeks or rivers as water sources. Crews going into the bush also carry backpacks that contain 40 gallons of water.
The Kelowna Fire Department also has a new water tender, which carries 2,000 gallons of water. The new tanker replaces a 20-year-old tender the department had, which carried more water but was too big and was harder to maneuver in the bush.
The new tender, while smaller, enables the driver to spray water while in motion, which he said will help crews immensely.
Fighting wildfires is only one aspect of what Kelowna firefighters can do, but Paley said it’s important to be ready if they’re ever called on to help out in another community.
“When we have those large fires… we have to make sure our firefighters are familiar with what they need to know when they go to another community to assist in those kinds of incidents,” he said.
That means being able to work not just with other Kelowna firefighters but also other cities’ crews and even the provincial wildfire service.
With all the training, technology and new equipment, Paley said people don’t need to worry about being safe from wildfires in the area.
“Since I’ve been with the Kelowna Fire Department… we’ve certainly changed with the way we deal with wildland fires. We were taking a structure firefighting approach and we were dragging big hose lines through the forest.”
“But our equipment has improved and we have wildland-specific equipment…. but we’ve come a long way in our training and equipment. The public can be assured that we’re much more prepared than we were ten or 20 years ago.”