With the province’s most devastating summer for wildfire in the rearview, Victoria is reminding British Columbians of the importance of fire safety as we head into Fire Prevention Week.
“On the heels of an unprecented (sic) wildfire season in British Columbia, fire safety is top of mind for families throughout the province and beyond. From October 8 to 14, the annual Fire Prevention Week serves as yet another reminder to all British Columbians to test fire alarms, review evacuation plans, practise fire drills and store functioning extinguishers,” said public safety minister Mike Farnworth in a release.
This year’s theme for the week, “Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out,” emphasizes the need to have effective escape plans in place that can be quickly and easily carried out.
When coming up with a fire escape plan, make sure to draw a map of the home with all windows and doors clearly indicated, according to the release. Visit each room and come up with two ways out, if possible, and decide on an outdoor meeting place in the event of a fire. Discuss the plan with everyone in the home and practise fire drills twice a year. Test fire alarms to ensure they’re in working order and place them in the appropriate areas.
“Fire escape plans are not only important at home but also at schools, child-care centres and places of employment,” added Farnworth. “Fire safety planning will better prepare your family, friends and community members to react safely in the event of a fire.”
It was the worst season on record for wildfires in B.C. More than 12,000 fire have burned approximately 11,700 square kilometres of land, causing hundreds of millions of dollars worth of damage.
The fire danger rating sat at extreme for 62 days and high for 19 days in Whistler this summer.
“I can say in 35 years here in Whistler and with the fire department, I don’t remember anything close to 60 days in extreme,” said Fire Chief Geoff Playfair in a presentation to council last month.
Locally, officials have been doing their part to prepare for the worst-case scenario. Municipal FireSmart coordinator Scott Rogers worked with more than two-dozen strata properties, representing over 820 units, and six private homeowners to FireSmart their properties. He’s also organized community work days and an education campaign at Whistler Secondary School.
The RMOW is also working on two fuel-thinning projects this month: one covering 6.2 hectares above the Whistler Cemetary and the other accounting for 15 hectares above Alpine Meadows.
There’s also a corridor-wide evacuation plan in the works that is expected for completion by the end of the year.