Firefighters from around British Columbia will be improving their knowledge and response to wildfires at a symposium that will be held in the South Okanagan in April.
“This is the first time it has been done in the province,” said Penticton Fire Department Chief Larry Watkinson, whose department is hosting the simulated wildfire training exercise. “We’re pretty excited about it. We had so much interest that we have a waiting list of 50 guys that want to come to this event, but we can’t, it’s just too many people to manage.”
From April 6 to 8, 150 firefighters from 27 jurisdictions will be running training exercises involving supervised burning and the active and visible deployment of fire service personnel fire apparatus and aircraft in the Campbell Mountain area neighbourhoods.
“It’s going to be full scale, large-scale event up on Campbell Mountain where we have command and control, we have engine operations, we have structure protection units, we’re going to have boots-on-the-ground wildfire fighters doing tactical, real-live firefighting on Campbell Mountain,” said Watkinson. “I think it is going to be a really positive, engaging moment for our community, never mind the fact that we are planning for fighting fires like this.”
Watkinson said this is a hands-on training symposium and knowledge gained from the exercises will help firefighters protect nearly a dozen B.C. communities who also respond to events involving wildland-urban interface conditions.
Over the course of the three-day event, residents may observe firefighters working a simulated wildfire event, fire trucks on roadways, firefighters in their neighbourhood and community and smoke on Campbell Mountain. Munson Mountain will be closed for command and control staging locations. Local roads will not be closed.
“The Penticton Fire Department wishes to thank Campbell Mountain area residents in advance for their patience and understand while this essential training exercise is carried out,” said Watkinson.
It’s going to be an intensive event. A detailed map has been created showing everything from the fire’s origin point in the hills above Penticton, to staging areas, threatened properties, helicopter landing areas, safe areas and medical evacuation.
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Senior reporter, Penticton Western News
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