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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kenny Podmore, here seen at Sidney’s cenotaph in November, says he feels for the veterans after organizers had to cancel an event acknowledging Victory in Europe (VE) Day for the second time in as many years because of COVID-19. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
North Saanich event marking 75th anniversary of VE-Day cancelled

Sidney resident first planned event for May 9, 2020 moved to May 8 before being cancelled

Individuals and businesses are encouraged to bring their unwanted electronics to Tillicum Centre May 14 to be shredded, recycled or donated. (Black Press Media file photo)
Greater Victoria residents can shred, donate electronics safely

Vancouver Island Better Business Bureau hosts event May 14 at Tillicum Centre

Penelope the cat showed up safe and sound at her owner’s porch after an unusual trip through the news cycle in recent weeks. (Photo courtesy of Reuniting Owners with Animals Missing)
Penelope, cat and friend of the Victoria HarbourCats, returns home safe

The cat had an after an unusual trip through the news cycle in recent weeks

Work is progressing on the new student housing building at the University of Victoria. The building will be home to 398 students when complete in September 2022. (Photo courtesy of UVic)
VIDEO: Mass timber installation begins at UVic student housing project

Green technology plays key role in building that will be home to 398 University of Victoria students

Stanley Fischer (right) died while in a Victoria police jail cell hours after he was arrested on Nov. 15, 1981. Forty years later, his family is questioning his cause of death. (Photo courtesy of Mark Fischer)
Family wants investigation into man’s 1981 death while in Victoria police custody

Stanley Fischer’s death was ruled a suicide after he was found hanging in his jail cell

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start releasing neighbourhood-specific COVID numbers after data leak

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Ladysmith RCMP safely escorted the black bear to the woods near Ladysmith Cemetary. (Town of Ladysmith/Facebook photo)
Black bear tranquillized, relocated after wandering around residential Ladysmith

A juvenile black bear was spotted near 2nd Avenue earlier Friday morning

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix update B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count creeps up, seven more deaths

445 people in hospital, 157 in intensive care

Summerland’s positive test rate is much higher than surrounding local health areas, according to internal BC CDC documents. (BC CDC)
Summerland 3rd behind Surrey, Abbotsford in daily per capita COVID-19 cases

Interior Health is rolling out additional vaccine availability to the community

Amazon is pausing its Prime Day marketing event in Canada this year amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at its facilities in Ontario. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Amazon Prime Day halted in Canada due to COVID-19 outbreaks in warehouses

The event was postponed to protect the health and safety of employees and customers, the company says

At this Highway 3 check point, police officers will be asking for identification from drivers, documentation regarding the driver’s name and address, and the purpose for the driver’s travel. (RCMP)
No fines handed out at 1st COVID-19 roadblock as checks move across B.C.

Cpl. Chris Manseau says a total of 127 vehicles were stopped at a roadblock in the Manning Park area

A spectator looks on as the Olympic Caldron is relit in downtown Vancouver, Wednesday, February 12, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Small majority of B.C. residents in favour of a Vancouver 2030 Olympic bid: survey

A new survey shows a split over the possibility of public money being spent to organize and host the winter games

Most Read