By Andrea Arnold

Many members of the McBride District Fire Department have recently gone through two training sessions that specifically focused on skills needed in a wildfire situation.

Fire Chief Courtney Lipke explained that the first session, S100, is a standard entry level forestry fire fighting course.

“It helped us understand what can be expected with a forest fire based on elements like weather, moisture, topography etc,” he said.

The second course, S185, went a little deeper in addressing what members should expect if a fire travels from the middle of nowhere into the backyards of homes, as the Teare Creek fire did last May.

“In the past, the fire department has prepared for building and structural fires,” said Lipke. “This training gives us more knowledge on how to approach a brush/forest fire.”

Although this training allows the local department to better respond to small wildfires, Lipke says that if they are faced with anything bigger than a small brush fire they will work in conjunction with, or under BC Wildfire.

He explained the current breakdown of jurisdiction. If it is a small fire on private property within their fire protection area, the fire department can battle the blaze. If the land that the fire is on backs onto crown land and there is a possibility of it spreading, he will notify the ministry. If there is a fire on private property, but it is larger scale, he will request that BC Wildfire crews come assist the department. If there is a fire on crown land, it falls under BC Wildfire jurisdiction and they will be the ones calling the shots.

Through the training sessions S100 and S185, they learned how to use the equipment they have and are familiar with more effectively in case of a wildfire, so they do not need to purchase new equipment in order to use their new skills.

“We are continuing to train for the event of a brush fire,” said Chief Lipke. “We are furthering our knowledge of how to use pumps and hoses in a forestry scenario.”