VIDEO: Prime Minister Trudeau visits West Kelowna fire hall

VIDEO: Prime Minister Trudeau visits West Kelowna fire hall
VIDEO: Prime Minister Trudeau visits West Kelowna fire hall

West Kelowna Fire Chief Jason Brolund says cooperation and FireSmart preparation are key to success in wildfire fighting

After meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, West Kelowna’s Fire Chief Jason Brolund says he is hopeful for the future of wildfire mitigation.

On May 10, Trudeau stopped in at Fire Hall #31 in West Kelowna to speak with leaders in the community and those who lost their homes in the 2023 McDougall Creek Wildfire.

Trudeau said that in light of climate-change related weather events, “we need to be more prepared and more coordinated,” in mitigation efforts in order to protect communities and people.

@kelownacapnews PM Justin Trudeau visits West Kelowna to discuss wildfire risk management. May 10,2024. More at #justintrudeau #kelowna #westkelowna #wildfire #climatechange ♬ original sound – Kelowna Capital News

“It is likely to be a very bad forest fire season,” Trudeau said. “We’re drawing on the lessons that everyone learned with such heroism last year to make sure we can do everything to minimize the impacts of wildfires that will be coming this summer.”

READ MORE: ‘It is likely to be a bad forest fire season’: Prime Minister visits West Kelowna

Brolund said that he and the Prime Minister talked about the benefits of implementing and funding a robust national FireSmart protocol in addition to bolstering local programs. FireSmart works to address common concerns and questions about fire in the wildland urban interface and provides the public with access to mitigation tools.

“It is through things like FireSmart that we are going to save homes,” Brolund said.

@kelownacapnews Replying to @Western Wildfire Response ♬ original sound – Kelowna Capital News

He said that in order to deal with the threat of climate change and wildfires, leaders and communities need to work together.

“It is only through partnerships, locally, provincially, federally and with our First Nations Partners that projects on that scale could happen… To really deal with this wildfire threat, it needs to happen on a scale of thousands of hectares around a community,” Brolund said.

“We have a world-class FireSmart program here in BCand we are still asking to make it better.”

Brolund said that all people, even those living far from forested areas need to be FireSmart.

As was seen in the McDougall Creek wildfire – where embers flew across the lake to ignite new blazes around the city of Kelowna – fire can travel substantial distances and will burn without discrimination.

Brolund asks that people implement FireSmart actions and clean their yard and gutters of flammable materials as fire season approaches.

“Help us defend your home if and when we see the next fire,” Brolund said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (centre) meets with West Kelowna Fire Chief Jason Brolund and leaders in the Central Okanagan on May 10, 2024. (Jacqueline Gelineau/Capital News)

In addition to preparing and protecting homes, Brolund said that forest fuel mitigation is an important step.

“It is through things like wildfire mitigation that we are going to slow big fires like McDougall Creek to a pace where our fire departments can be successful against them,” Brolund said.

He has explained that working collaboratively with fire crews, wildland firefighters and local Indigenous groups to manage the accumulation of combustible fuels is an important part of fire mitigation.

The PM said that the federal government will be doubling the volunteer firefighter tax credit and will be allocating $800,000 to wildland training in BC

The prime minister also said that $175 million has been provided to Indigenous communities for emergency response and preparedness.

Brolund said that after a winter of fuel management and preparation, fire crews across the province are ready for wildfire season whenever it starts.

“Our departments are ready. We have new equipment, we have new training, we have new firefighters and what we have the most of is a sense of cooperation among the region,” Brolund said.

READ MORE: Warning to Central Okanagan ‘paw-rents’: Do not leave pets in hot cars

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