Canadian Wildfire Season - 2023

User avatar
Drip_Torch
Guru
Posts: 6616
Joined: Aug 16th, 2012, 10:56 am

Re: Canadian Wildfire Season - 2023

Post by Drip_Torch »

Catsumi wrote: Jan 18th, 2024, 9:02 pm Ok, I read thru all of the above and considered what you had to say, but I’m uncertain as to what exactly you think is the best fire fighting approach. I agree that it took forever to round up enough “qualified” peeps from around the globe to attend even a few of the wildfires that had burned for some time. You seem to be impressed with the successful efforts of a few guys with a truck and a hose. They were in the right spot at the right time.

You don’t say it outright but are you encouraging the local BC people to attack the fires before they’re out of control, instead of waiting for govt agencies to get themselves to the scene? This policy would have been most welcome in the Shuswap fires where knowledgeable men with investments in the land were chased away by the “experts”. The losses were devastating.

I think this is a great idea and should be pursued. If the locals can be taught all the necessary insightfulness to fire behaviour and are well-versed in the personal safety aspect, why not? It beggars belief that we have to haul folks from Australia to address fires here. Yes, yes, I know that these are not normal times with the prolonged drought situation.

You also mention anaerobic fires that burn all winter, underground, and when conditions are right, they become surface fires once again. Can the same not happen after slash burning?
You ask some great questions Catsumi and I'm not avoiding them, but I am going to put a pin in this and get back to you. I hope I'll answer a few of those questions in the next post I make and if not, I'll circle back with a more direct reply.

I'll leave you with this to think about...

You're in your own garage and a fire breaks out. You have a fire extinguisher on the wall. Should you PASS (Pull, Aim, Squeeze, Sweep), or should you get out? By far the safest blanket policy statement would be you should get out, but is that going to be the right fit for everyone? Obviously not, we encourage people to have fire extinguishers.

Would I encourage you to stand your ground and use a fire extinguisher? Nope, that's a decision you would need to make. I will however, encourage you to learn about fire extinguishers; how they work, what they work on, how to use them effectively and how to do so safely. That way you can make the best decision for yourself - should that time ever come.

This is what I like about the Australian system, over the US system that we seem to be moving towards.

For more information on what I'm talking about with the Australian system...

https://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/__data/asset ... iscuss.pdf

I'm not saying the Australian system is direct fit. It most certainly is not, but it provides a foundational approach that forces you to think about things and a framework to make those decisions long before you have to. In doing so, it also makes you aware of the importance of hardening your surroundings, regardless of which way you intend to go with your plan.
Drip Torch - an upright and steadfast keeper of the flame, but when tilted sideways the contents spill and then our destiny is in the wind...
User avatar
Drip_Torch
Guru
Posts: 6616
Joined: Aug 16th, 2012, 10:56 am

Re: Canadian Wildfire Season - 2023

Post by Drip_Torch »

Drip_Torch wrote: Jan 18th, 2024, 4:21 pm
Glacier wrote: Jan 17th, 2024, 1:44 am :up: thanks for the info!
And thank you for taking a moment to consider what I have to say.

There is more to it, and I have "The System - Part 2" that I feel I need to write. Wildfires are only part of the equation and I'd like to share some observations on the Interface.

Interface;

- a point where two systems, subjects, organizations, etc. meet and interact.
- the place at which independent and often unrelated systems meet and act on or communicate with each other.
- a situation, way, or place where two things come together and affect each other.


I'm going to take my time and really consider what and how I want to share, but I'll be back.

(Of course, I'm in a small village and I want to survive - I don't want to be clubbed to death in the middle of the night.)

I’d like to pick up where I left off and I hope you’ve taken a moment to review the video and consider the definitions in the post above.

This is awkward, uncomfortable and whenever I do approach the general topic of cultural inertia it quickly becomes challenging and makes people defensive. For those of you that might be thinking I’m only here to heap praise and paint a happy picture, buckle up, things are about to get real for a few paragraphs.

First, I feel I need to explain my motivation and precisely where I’m coming from. Years before I started working around BCWS operations I joined the local Fire Department. At the time, the only thing “cool” about being clipped on the rear tailboard of an old GMC fire truck holding up traffic with running red lights and siren, was the still wet turnout gear from the Wednesday evening practice.

My motivation for joining the Fire Department came from an incident on New Years eve when I was home alone with my younger brothers at 14 years old and called the Fire Department. Those were the days before cellphones and pagers, a time when calling out Fire involved activating an air raid siren on the Fire Hall. Apparently 20 minutes before midnight on New Years eve the parties get a little loud and no one noticed I needed help. Long story short, after several call backs to Fire Dispatch a symphony of air raid sirens played from the three Fire Halls surrounding my neighbourhood for over 45 minutes, and I remained absolutely terrified that I might be somewhat responsible for losing my parents’ house to fire.

Bottom line: I was imprinted with a strong feeling that when someone calls for help, those that can help should be ready and prepared to do so.

My local Fire Department, that I joined about two weeks after my 16th birthday, had a strong training ethos and a junior firefighter’s program. When I became an actual firefighter, I transferred Departments to one of the busiest volunteer Departments in BC, with a huge highway rescue area and significant wildland urban interface exposure. I was fortunate to be able to trade duty crews and take small LOA’s to fit in my projects and other jobs. So, wildfire became a thing I started doing in the summers.

Far too much about me; my point is I understand the different cultures that must interact with each other in planning, preparing and operating in the modern Wildland Urban Interface environment.
It is recognized that wildland firefighters are trained and equipped to respond to fires composed of wildland fuels and vegetation and are not trained or equipped to address structure fires, such as residential buildings. Structure firefighters are trained to control and extinguish fire in structures, such as residential fires. Some structure firefighters – but not all – have training and/or equipment to suppress wildland fire. Both wildland and structure firefighting expertise are needed to respond to WUI fire events. It is recognized that local authorities are responsible for their structure fire departments, other resources engaged by the Province are provincial resources.
(Quote taken from the existing Inter-agency agreement between the Fire Chief’s Association and the BCWS)

If you’ve been involved in WUI for a long time, you might remember me from 2002 TOIC WUI symposium in Penticton. I was the guy with the stunned look on his face that couldn’t believe the direction things were going in. I will never forget the shock I felt while looking around a room of 150+ professionals, (all nodding their heads in approval) after being told of a fire history for BC that included a January interface fire in Victoria destroying homes, damaging infrastructure and killing sheep. (It shouldn’t have taken me years to get this Victoria, Australia incident removed from the Canadian Disaster Database, but it did – experts said, don’t you know.)

After learning about the new rules of disengagement that would be applied to Fire Departments during WUI incidents, I approached the S-185 instructor, and author of the paper that justified the new policy, to discuss her presentation and it became apparent what I had to say wouldn’t have any impact on her, because my name tag and agency didn’t make the hierarchal grade to influence the established cultural scripts her agency worked from. (She was literally laser focused on my name lanyard and reading it with her ears as well as her eyes.)

That was also the conference I was first confronted with the concept of bulldozing homes to control a wildfire and heard the foretelling of what would happen to the trestles in OMP, if and when, a fire happened in the park. Half a dozen WUI myths later and I wanted to scream in frustration. It was apparent to me no one had any idea what was coming and if there was anyone that did, they were going to invite it.

All truths are negotiated and settled through a cultural lens. Those that can mimic the cultural norms are promoted quickly through the organization and the cultural scripts that are developed are rarely given any opportunity to be questioned.

Please take a moment to go back and re-read that quote above. The essence of the agreement is the agency that isn’t trained to understand structure fires, manages the agencies that have not all been trained and equipped to supress wildland fires. There’s a gap here – and it’s big. WUI fires are neither wildland fires, nor structure fires and IMHO neither agency is fully prepared to take the lead. (Please don’t get me wrong, everyone is working towards the best outcomes and things are improving greatly in recent years.)

Failures and mistakes happen.

I came from one of the first Fire Departments to bring in the Jaws of Life for auto extrication and that happened only because of repeated and extremely distressing failures that needed to be addressed. There is nothing more frustrating for a first responder than not having the tools and training needed at an incident – this is especially true when you know things could be done better, but your hands are tied. My department, due to its exposure to trauma was one of the first departments to bring in a professional to help us cope with after action reviews and critical incident stress debriefings.

If Jeff Bezos thinks “truth telling” is awkward and exhausting, let me tell you dealing with failures is exponentially more difficult. People get defensive and emotions run high – it really takes a lot of training to understand how legitimizing failure is entirely different than searching for accountability.

Failure often results in blame seeking. There’s nothing to be gained by an organization in that exercise, and failure should only be viewed as a lack of success, or the inability to meet an expectation. Legitimizing failures is a healthy internal process that offers us better paths to different outcomes.

“We have people that take care of this for us!”

What I want to do with this post is back out of the Wildland Urban Interface a bit, and focus on the specific interface that shapes policy, procedure and operations in WUI events.

Sometime in the last few years you might have seen, or been confronted with, a WUI situation that made you think there was a “Public Safety” issue developing. In fact, you may have even heard the Public Safety Minister admonishing people for staying behind and addressing their own concerns on their own property.

Did you know the Public Safety Minister has all but been removed from the WUI policy and operations environment? Emergency Management in BC is now under the domain of Ministry of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness. What that means in practice is the only vestige of domain left with the Public Safety Minister is the Office of the Fire Commissioner – an office that has been passed around more than a hat at a charity event. It’s an office that struggles to meet its core mandate of fire reporting, maintaining legislation and standards, offering technical assistance and fire investigation support. I know I won’t make anyone happy by saying this out loud, but it’s a green pasture for retired fire service officers to graze from. IMHO - It is the Office that should be setting the standards for Fire Service training in the WUI environment, but it’s basically been dismissed by removing that specific strategic direction from the Core Service Plan.

Emergency Management and Climate Readiness (EMCR) is now the lead organization for managing emergencies in BC. It’s involved in bringing to play a massive piece of legislation that will undoubtably be their focus for many years to come. What it brings and how it could deliver anything to the WUI interface is a bit of a mystery to me.

Here is the core Strategic Direction written in its plan:
In 2023/24, the Government of British Columbia will continue our work to make life better for people in B.C., improve the services we all rely on, and ensure a sustainable province for future generations. Government will focus on building a secure, clean, and fair economy, and a province where everyone can find a good home – whether in a rural area, in a city, or in an Indigenous community. B.C. will continue working toward true and meaningful reconciliation by supporting opportunities for Indigenous Peoples to be full partners in an inclusive and sustainable province. The policies, programs and projects developed over the course of this service plan period will focus on results that people can see and feel in four key areas: attainable and affordable housing, strengthened health care, safer communities, and a secure, clean and fair economy that can withstand global economic headwinds.
Now you might be tempted to think “safer communities”, it’s right there in plain English Drip, obviously they are going to be doing the work to help overcome any difficulties you could imagine in the Wildland Urban Interface. But, no – that’s not what this means.

Safer Communities is outlined in the mandate letter as;
Safer communities: To address concerns about public safety, both for the people struggling with mental health and addiction on our streets, as well as the feeling that downtown centres are not as safe as they were before the pandemic, we will work with our partners at all levels of government, the justice and health care systems, the non-profit sector, and community leaders to find solutions for this complex challenge facing our province, and work overtime to seize the assets of high-level criminals.
It does go on to state in the mandate letter:
Your role as the first Minister of this new Ministry will be to lead and coordinate the ongoing cross-government work needed to learn from, respond to, and prepare for emergencies using the best data and information available.
How exactly that happens remains to be seen, but like I said, I can’t envision Ministry employees being able to do much beyond the continued work needed to enact the massive legislation, policy and regulations that they seem bent on bringing into effect.

BCWS is the lead organization in WUI fires, and it works with the Association of Fire Chiefs (FCABC) to shape policy and procedure in the WUI environment. BCWS, through the Provincial Wildfire Coordination Centre (PWCC) is responsible for all provincial resources brought to bear on wildfires that have the potential to become, or have become, a WUI event.

There’s a lot of economic activity that takes place in wildfire season and you may have come across posts in which I’ve referred to “power silos” seeking to gain or maintain influence over the public funds being spent. Our current situation gives extraordinary influence to an agency that isn’t trained, or equipped to mitigate fire losses to structures and infrastructure, and it gives some influence to an organization that represents Fire Chief Officers. You might be wondering where you and I fit in? You’re not alone.

This is where the cultural inertia lies. You might think that mix makes perfect sense, however it seems to be overlooking several well-established sets of standards, best practices and memorandums of understanding.
BCWS exists to fight wildfires and their firefighter training and equipment is only suitable for wildfires. BCWS is also the feeder organization for many of our public safety institutions and they are the culturally dominant force in setting WUI policy, procedure and operations. Overall, when reading the established agreement between BCWS and FCABC it becomes apparent to me there simply isn’t a well synthesized approach to WUI events. If I were to attempt to put it into terms a layperson could understand, I would say throughout the agreement you can see examples of where one organization wants a square and the other organization wants a rectangle with sides of equal length. They can’t seem to reconcile the two, so both requirements are printed in there. Another example: a minimum spec Type 4 engine is required to have 2 combination nozzles – Is that in case they happen to come across someone with a useful pump that needs two nozzles?

Please, if you are at all involved in WUI events in this province take a moment and review the definitions of interface printed in the above post. Tell me where it says two organizations, or unrelated systems come together to assimilate and mimic the dominate organization. (It really doesn’t mean that, so please stop doing that.)

Just as wildland firefighters shouldn’t be taking shovels to fight a house fire, a structural firefighter shouldn’t be engaged in a wildland fire without a solid understanding of LACES, the Fire Orders, 18 Watch-Outs, the Down Hill Line Construction checklist, and entrapment avoidance, etc. These are things that have been bought and paid for with blood and lives.

If command is copy/pasting objectives from BCEMS and the objectives you’re being given are anything other than SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time Bound), the strategy is anything other than direct attack, or indirect attack – you’re looking at a red flag and I hope you understand as an engine company indirect attack firefighting is the most dangerous operational strategy you could possibly be engaged in. Yes, even in your red truck. (If anyone is tempted to dismiss that statement, please reach out to me, I’ll send you a list of incidents and names.)

This. Needs. To. Change. “Only the Brave” was a Hollywood drama, not a firefighter SOP training course.

And this is what I’m talking about when I say we need to fill the resource gaps and reconsider how we best serve our priorities. We need to stop promoting the “go along, get along” mindset and start promoting the ideas that synthesize the WUI situation. A place where two organizations come together and affect each other, in such a way it’s understood by both organizations that they each have a role, their own role, to play.

Unfortunately, there is no feedback mechanism into the BCWS, or the FCABC that doesn’t trigger defensiveness and become awkward. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve engaged, only to watch someone puff out their chest and start speaking safety issues from their cultural script. Bad luck for them, because I spend far too much time investigating safety issues and often that only makes things more uncomfortable.

.
Untitled-9.jpg
.
IMG_0884.JPG
.
IMG_0890.JPG
.
The Provincial agreement sees BCWS as the sole source of resources in WUI emergencies. I feel this is problematic and would like to see local authorities given more leeway to engage local planning and resourcing.

In review of the Lahaina incident, Camp Fire incident… doesn’t matter, pick your mass casualty event, you’ll see an Incident Command Structure that completely lost track of the situation on the ground. This too needs to change and I’m doing what I can to give people the opportunity to think about what we’re doing here.

In Lahaina, it was the EOC in Lahaina that could have tasked resources to remove the obstructions impeding the evacuation routes. In the Camp Fire, it was the EOC in Paradise that should have known, (There was a specific report, less than four years old) the evacuation routes simply couldn’t handle the traffic volume. It was Paradise EOC that should have tasked resources to direct people into safer zones to seek temporary shelter, while the fire was impacting the travel routes.

In BC, we should be learning from these incidents and putting in place local plans that anticipate all the problems that we know we’re going to encounter one day. History is a great indicator of future possibilities. I’m sorry to have to say this, but it’s only a matter of time before our luck will run out.

Last year, while we were in the thick of things, I was reading Castanet and came across a news story from one of our local EOC’s about how they were struggling to come up with equipment due to unprecedented demand.
After a few phone calls I finally made it past the first wall of inaction and was speaking to the “Operations Branch”. I offered my equipment package and told him it was an over spec Type 6 engine- complete. Turn-key, ready to go, just add a couple firefighters, give me access to a water supply, and I’m comfortably pumping 150 gpm/150psi, with foam all day, all week or all month.

Might be something that could come in handy – right?

“That’s great and I appreciate you calling, but I don’t know what that is”, was the reply. Operations Branch, meh, a mere $67/hour role, why would I expect he might know anything about the Engine Type Standard in BC? It’s likely he knows which form to fill out when ordering lunch for the EOC staff and how to make photocopies of it. That’s just how our current system works.

In complete fairness, in our system it is BCWS that makes that call and I had already made my availability known to them. I was simply following through, in case the news article on Castanet was really something more than a role play exercise.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t care that my equipment wasn’t used. It was a business plan I put together after 2003, when Premier Campbell signed an agreement with the Western Governors signalling BC was moving towards a more aligned standards-based meritocracy in wildfire management and it quickly became apparent that wasn’t going to be the case. The business plan was abandoned long, long ago, and I only went through the motions of incorporation and CGL insurance because it seemed like the equipment might be needed. Not because I needed to get the equipment working.

Something, something… about those that can help, being ready and prepared to do so – old habits die hard.

I don’t know how we adapt our plans with our current interface. Much of the effort seems to go towards maintaining a status quo. Through EMCR, First Nations are given a bigger voice and much more attention and that’s a good thing, because historically they have been the most impacted, most overlooked and they do have the oral history of Firekeeping as a land management tool. That doesn’t mean, or at least I don’t believe it should mean, First Nations are the only group that should be invited to the table when it comes to shaping policy and procedure within BCWS, FCABC and EMCR. Somewhere along the way, Rural BC and those of us that are aware of things our current powers seem to be overlooking should have some opportunity to throw our observations into the mix too.

Jeff Bezos is right! Truth-telling is awkward, it’s uncomfortable, it makes people defensive and it’s challenging, but I hope you can understand it’s also exhausting. Especially when you’re attempting to do so to a wall of expensive uniforms with preprepared cultural scripts. Regardless, it’s a process that needs to happen if we’re going to move away from the type of cultural inertia that saw us develop a model of the Wildland Urban Interface in 90’s that simply didn’t reflect reality, or if we are going to release our death grip on some of the more prolific WUI myths.

We have a lot of very dedicated people working very hard on the issue. They will respond and continue doing the good work they do. They are good at what they do, and nothing I said above this is meant to question anyone’s intentions or ability. Instead, I’m attempting to draw some attention to the cultural conflicts that are inherent in any dynamic system that must legitimize failures, deal with accountability and synthesize different cultural approaches.

I closely watch wildfire around the planet, and I’m not aware of any jurisdiction much more capable than our own. There are different systems at play and there are different standards, but a small percentage of wildfires are causing problems everywhere. I’m certain BCWS will continue to adapt and evolve with the situation, as they have been.

In closing I’ll ask, does it make any sense to you that we currently have $638/hour fire trucks traveling around our fire impacted areas, with 4 crew members performing basic housekeeping tasks? Time to level up and start asking people in Rural BC to prepare wildfire plans IMHO.

Yes, we do have people that look after this for us. It’s time to put on your serious I mean business face, head to the mirror and ask that person if there is anything more they can do to help?

I’ll say it again, the best time to fight next years wildfires is between now and April 15th.

*** https://firesmartbc.ca ***
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
Drip Torch - an upright and steadfast keeper of the flame, but when tilted sideways the contents spill and then our destiny is in the wind...
User avatar
Drip_Torch
Guru
Posts: 6616
Joined: Aug 16th, 2012, 10:56 am

Re: Canadian Wildfire Season - 2023

Post by Drip_Torch »

Catsumi wrote: Jan 18th, 2024, 9:02 pm Ok, I read thru all of the above and considered what you had to say, but I’m uncertain as to what exactly you think is the best fire fighting approach. I agree that it took forever to round up enough “qualified” peeps from around the globe to attend even a few of the wildfires that had burned for some time. You seem to be impressed with the successful efforts of a few guys with a truck and a hose. They were in the right spot at the right time.

You don’t say it outright but are you encouraging the local BC people to attack the fires before they’re out of control, instead of waiting for govt agencies to get themselves to the scene? This policy would have been most welcome in the Shuswap fires where knowledgeable men with investments in the land were chased away by the “experts”. The losses were devastating.

I think this is a great idea and should be pursued. If the locals can be taught all the necessary insightfulness to fire behaviour and are well-versed in the personal safety aspect, why not? It beggars belief that we have to haul folks from Australia to address fires here. Yes, yes, I know that these are not normal times with the prolonged drought situation.

You also mention anaerobic fires that burn all winter, underground, and when conditions are right, they become surface fires once again. Can the same not happen after slash burning?
Hi Catsumi. I promised I’d circle back to you and here’s my best attempt to answer your questions.

You ask what I think is the best approach to firefighting? Great question, and perhaps I just haven’t been clear about what I’m attempting to draw some attention to. Wildfires, IMHO, are well managed in this province and the BCWS has a very good record overall, despite some of the very challenging circumstances they are being confronted with these days. (as I tried to point out in the post above yours) I know many people don’t feel like they are meeting “expectations”, but I’m really trying to convey the fact that some “expectations” are often unrealistic.

Wildfire is a natural process and because it’s directly influenced by the weather, it can be as variable as the weather.

The best approach, IMHO, is rapidly becoming an all-hands-on deck approach. Wildfire isn’t Wildland Urban Interface fire, but wildfire does have the potential to escalate into WUI events. This is where I think everyone should be doing what they can. If you can read this post, you can click the FireSmart link – that’s a good start. Most local gov’ts and Fire Departments have dedicated staffing and programs to help neighbourhoods and homeowners with Firesmart practices – get an assessment done. Upgrading your house to better shelter yourself from the cold, or the rain? Might be a good time to think about upgrades that would protect your house from wildfire too.

I’ll say it again, wildfire is a natural process and we’re not going to make it go away. Just like we can’t stop the rain. To a certain degree, we’re going to have to learn how to better live with it.

WUI fires on the other hand, aren’t a natural process and they offer no beneficial effects to the landscape, or society. There’s more work to be done here and this is what I’m attempting to draw some attention to. Wildfires aren’t causing the insurance industry to pull out of certain states in the US, but catastrophic losses from WUI fires are. It wasn’t a wildfire that wiped out Lytton, it was a WUI fire. I really do believe there’s an important distinction to be made here. Rather than tooling our Fire Services to support wildfire operations, tool our Fire Services to work in the Wildland Urban Interface environment.

I mean, can we all just step back and take a look at some of the conflicting messaging that goes out during Wildland Urban Interface fires for minute? "Don't be a garden hose hero", they said!

A few moments later...

"Hey, check out our garden hose heroes" ...

Image

.
Untitled-10.jpg
.
No seriously, there's more than just a problem with the messaging there. Don't be a garden hose hero in the WUI fire environment. 20/60 to 20/90 combinations should be the minimum standard. Those red plastic nozzles are for washing the trucks and flushing the pavement, long after the WUI has been dealt with. (Blue Ribbon report after the California Firestorm is the reference I'm drawing on.)

“Qualified peeps” – yeah, I’m not sure what to tell you on this and it is going to continue being an issue.

I remember sitting down over lunch with a few “Protection Branch” regulars and pleading my case for a more established professional approach to wildland firefighters. They all thought I was nuts and it would never happen. Here we are, and I will agree, perhaps things went a little too far in that direction, but we seem to be coming back and some contactors are now able to offer almost full training. From what I’ve seen they are providing great crews. I don’t share the somewhat bleak opinion of the old "street firefighter" days that a few others that frequent this forum do. I really do believe people have the ability to rise-up and meet challenges head on. However, I can tell you from experience managing “street firefighters”, or “EFF’s” is challenging, and I certainly do remember my share of duds. I can't imagine any path back to the days of conscription, or sign-up firefighters.

The big advantage to the CIFFC contracted crews is they plug and play into our ICS and this allows our wildfire people to stay in the positions they are needed in.

I think I covered the “encouraging” aspect of your question, so I’ll move on. The only thing I’m encouraging people to do is become aware of the issues and do what they are capable of doing. That might be pick up your phone and arrange a Firesmart assessment. That might be stop, grab a shovel out of your trunk and swat out the incipient fire you come across on the highway. Capable being the key word. Who knows, maybe this post is being read by someone capable of asking; why the :cuss: are we sending $800 thousand dollar fire trucks across the Province to deploy garden hoses and sprinklers?

There are still regulations that encourage certain people, under certain circumstances, to initiate suppression activities on wildfire starts before the province is on scene. If you're not aware of the regulations, you're likely not one of the people it's aimed at. This is entirely different than having a group, or people just show up and start freelancing. Most often, as the resources arrive, those people will be thanked, and asked to move on. I certainly do see people in the right place, at the right time, that do the right thing. That’s not likely to change and that is something I wouldn't discourage.

“Shuswap” – yeah, I don’t know what to tell you about that. I wasn’t there and I don’t know anything beyond what I read in the news. I do know you are not required to let wildfire burn your land and I do know situations such as this have to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. Again, the word capable comes into play. If a person, or group of people, doesn't have a plan, equipment or experience, they’re not capable – are they?

I’ve been in similar situations that have been handled entirely differently. The wildfire environment is very dynamic, and the authorities have to do a quick “book-by-the-cover” judgement on who is, or who isn’t capable. There’s a quote I could pull from policy, but I’m hesitant to do so, because in my opinion far too many people think it’s okay to ignore an evacuation order and remain behind as a spectator. There’s only one valid reason to stay behind and that’s to keep wildfire off your own land. Not to go firefighting, not to take pictures, not to watch for looters, not because you can just go later, etc… If you are staying behind to keep wildfire off your own land – you must be judged as “capable”, remain on your own land and stay out of the way.

Otherwise, you’re just a problem that remains in the back of everyone’s mind.

Like I said, don’t know anything about “Shuswap”. All I can tell you is that the last time I was involved in a similar situation the feedback was good. The working relationship with BCWS and the Structure crews was supportive all around, and there was only one problem that I’m aware of – and it didn’t have anything to do with wildfire.

Everything worked as it should. The people up there had a plan and that’s likely why it worked out as it did and you didn’t hear about it on the news.

Zombie fires! Winter holdovers, the province is monitoring about 100 of those this year. Yes, the same thing happens after slash fires and that’s why the liability insurance is such a pain to negotiate. Off the top of my head, early 90’s… one of those smaller towns north of Vernon… a slash fire came to life in the night and swooped down into the valley taking a few homes. I’d have to dig back into my hard drives to get you the details, but yes, you’re right – the same thing can happen after slash burning. That’s why the burns are registered, and the registrant is made aware of the conditions. And, or course, the liabilities...

https://www.castanet.net/news/BC/457298 ... ebris-burn
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
Drip Torch - an upright and steadfast keeper of the flame, but when tilted sideways the contents spill and then our destiny is in the wind...
User avatar
Glacier
The Pilgrim
Posts: 39865
Joined: Jul 6th, 2008, 10:41 pm

Re: Canadian Wildfire Season - 2023

Post by Glacier »

Very interesting stuff! I did not have a fire on New Year's eve, but I did have a flood!

And I had to get the water shut off at the street because the water line had broke before my main shut off. And it took hours of trying to phoning the emergency line to not have anyone come. The dispatch lady could not track down the guy that was on call.

Long story short, my basement flooded all night long until 8:30 in the morning.

Having your house burn when you are a kid would be much much worse.

Interesting information about the line between structural fire protection and wildfire protection.
"No one has the right to apologize for something they did not do, and no one has the right to accept an apology if the wrong was not done to them."
- Douglas Murray
User avatar
Drip_Torch
Guru
Posts: 6616
Joined: Aug 16th, 2012, 10:56 am

Re: Canadian Wildfire Season - 2023

Post by Drip_Torch »

Glacier wrote: Feb 3rd, 2024, 10:52 pm Very interesting stuff! I did not have a fire on New Year's eve, but I did have a flood!

And I had to get the water shut off at the street because the water line had broke before my main shut off. And it took hours of trying to phoning the emergency line to not have anyone come. The dispatch lady could not track down the guy that was on call.

Long story short, my basement flooded all night long until 8:30 in the morning.

Having your house burn when you are a kid would be much much worse.

Interesting information about the line between structural fire protection and wildfire protection.
Well there we go. We've all learned one thing - don't have an emergency on New Years Eve. Mine was a chimney fire, but the type that when you close off the damper on the wood stove, the stove pipe becomes a jet engine that blows smoke out of all the reddening pipe joints. It was also ejecting burning creosote clumps onto the cedar shake roof. (Never good - something I wasn't prepared to deal with at the time.)

When it comes right down to it, I was encouraged when people hit this thread wanting to discuss the issues. I suspect I've gone in a direction some wish I wouldn't, but I don't see "federal firefighters" and "more airtankers" as the pressing concern.

For me, it's all about avoiding situations such as the one that unfolded in Quilpue and Vina-del-Mar, Chile, the day before yesterday.
.
Image
.
Image
.
Image

Unfortunately, there have been many lives lost and the preliminary numbers are going to go up considerably. They're not anywhere near out of the woods and there are a number of other cities, towns and centers still being impacted. We'll see more scenes like this in the coming days.

Chile has been struggling for weeks with a wildfire load, but this particular fire, at least from what I can tell by satellite imaging, went off like a bomb. They didn't have days, or even hours to prepare plans. It's not your typical WUI fire setting either. The ember cast was impacting the city center and lighting any fuels it could find.

.
Untitled-14.jpg
.
Untitled-15.jpg
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
Drip Torch - an upright and steadfast keeper of the flame, but when tilted sideways the contents spill and then our destiny is in the wind...
seewood
Guru
Posts: 6406
Joined: May 29th, 2013, 2:08 pm

Re: Canadian Wildfire Season - 2023

Post by seewood »

Drip_Torch wrote: Feb 4th, 2024, 12:36 am They're not anywhere near out of the woods and there are a number of other cities, towns and centers still being impacted. We'll see more scenes like this in the coming days.
yep, we have friends that winter in Concon.

They are definitely concerned.

Thanks so much for the write up Mr. Torch, Great read !
Likely some incentive for me to clean up under the Paramadalys cedar behind us and at the side property line, clean the gutters, log some shrubs etc... :130:

Edit added : From Castanet- :
Rodrigo Mundaca, the governor of the Valparaiso region, said Sunday that he believed some of the fires could have been intentionally caused, replicating a theory that had also been mentioned on Saturday by President Gabriel Boric.

These fires began in four points that lit up simultaneously,” Mundaca said. “As authorities we will have to work rigorously to find who is responsible.”
I am not wealthy but I am rich
User avatar
Catsumi
Buddha of the Board
Posts: 19356
Joined: May 24th, 2017, 8:26 pm

Re: Canadian Wildfire Season - 2023

Post by Catsumi »

Ok, so it was decided that one guy who burnt a pile was responsible for underground fire that took off months later. If we are to believe him, he checked the site often and found no activity or even warmth by hand feeling.

If that is the case, how can we be assured that ALL slash burning sites are truly cold and will not flare up again? Does anyone regularly check previous slash burn piles or do we just let it go, thinking that the “experts” are checking regularly.

And if they don’t and the fire lives again another day, destroying homes and forests, would the peeps responsible for checking slash burns, that’s if they do, would ever admit their culpability or blame it on glass, campers, terrorists, whatever?
Sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice. There’s a certain point at which ignorance becomes malice, at which there is simply no way to become THAT ignorant except deliberately and maliciously.

Unknown
seewood
Guru
Posts: 6406
Joined: May 29th, 2013, 2:08 pm

Re: Canadian Wildfire Season - 2023

Post by seewood »

Catsumi wrote: Feb 4th, 2024, 8:01 pm Ok, so it was decided that one guy who burnt a pile was responsible for underground fire that took off months later. If we are to believe him, he checked the site often and found no activity or even warmth by hand feeling.

If that is the case, how can we be assured that ALL slash burning sites are truly cold and will not flare up again? Does anyone regularly check previous slash burn piles or do we just let it go, thinking that the “experts” are checking regularly.
Wonder if this is an opportunity for a fellow with a mini excavator that is easier to transport and go and dig over these piles late winter or spring. ?
I am not wealthy but I am rich
User avatar
Catsumi
Buddha of the Board
Posts: 19356
Joined: May 24th, 2017, 8:26 pm

Re: Canadian Wildfire Season - 2023

Post by Catsumi »

seewood wrote: Feb 5th, 2024, 7:35 am
Catsumi wrote: Feb 4th, 2024, 8:01 pm Ok, so it was decided that one guy who burnt a pile was responsible for underground fire that took off months later. If we are to believe him, he checked the site often and found no activity or even warmth by hand feeling.

If that is the case, how can we be assured that ALL slash burning sites are truly cold and will not flare up again? Does anyone regularly check previous slash burn piles or do we just let it go, thinking that the “experts” are checking regularly.
Wonder if this is an opportunity for a fellow with a mini excavator that is easier to transport and go and dig over these piles late winter or spring. ?
Possibly, but I’d still like to know if those piles are checked ongoing through to next burn season. According to the Castanet article that DT posted it happened once to a regular joe. I doubt it was a unique happening.
Sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice. There’s a certain point at which ignorance becomes malice, at which there is simply no way to become THAT ignorant except deliberately and maliciously.

Unknown
User avatar
Babba_not_Gump
Walks on Forum Water
Posts: 13067
Joined: Jul 16th, 2019, 2:38 pm

Re: Canadian Wildfire Season - 2023

Post by Babba_not_Gump »

Catsumi wrote: Feb 5th, 2024, 9:14 am
seewood wrote: Feb 5th, 2024, 7:35 am

Wonder if this is an opportunity for a fellow with a mini excavator that is easier to transport and go and dig over these piles late winter or spring. ?
Possibly, but I’d still like to know if those piles are checked ongoing through to next burn season. According to the Castanet article that DT posted it happened once to a regular joe. I doubt it was a unique happening.
Many of these burn piles are in areas that have been logged, maybe even slash burned, often there isn't much of a chance for these fires to amount to anything, but they can.
Recent logged and burned areas will still have traffic in them, sometimes for that very reason to check on burns.

Sending in an excavator to dig through the piles on the off chance they're still burning is pretty costly, best just to do a drive-by. They are often pretty easy to spot in the winter, covered in snow. One will see steam and/or smoke coming off them, the colder the easier it is to see them.

But following through as a wildfire is being mopped up, really the only way to determine if there's still a spark down there is "cold trailing". That's digging down into the roots of a burned tree and feeling with your bare hands. If it's hot, there's still a fire down there. Then you dig it out a bit and flood it with water.

I worked on an initial attack crew one year on Vancouver Island. Two crews of four or five guys and a tanker truck. Does the Ministry still have initial attack crews?
Our job was to get the fire out within 24 hours (or was it 48 hours?). If it wasn't out then we were pulled out and a larger crew sent in.
We had about 50 fires that summer and only one gave us trouble. It flared up about two weeks later so we had to go back in. It was also the toughest fire to access. helicoptered in the first time, second time "you guys are walking in". :swear:
I'm posting this from Traditional lands of the British Empire & the current Lands of The Dominion of Canada.
I also give thanks for this ethos richness bestowed on us via British Colonialism.

#StandUpToJewishHate
User avatar
Catsumi
Buddha of the Board
Posts: 19356
Joined: May 24th, 2017, 8:26 pm

Re: Canadian Wildfire Season - 2023

Post by Catsumi »

Very interesting of course. ^^^

But didn’t regular Joe say he checked often, no warmth felt by his hands, and yet a flare up still happened.

There seems to be a big push to fire up logging waste, slash burn piles abound, everywhere, here, there but I still haven’t an answer.

Are those slash burn sites patrolled regularly, or do we just take someone’s word for it that it has been done?

There were multiple fires in the back-country attributed to arsonists, cig tossers or cause never named out loud.

If I had my wish, it’d be that DT speak plainly instead in paragraphs galore of “govt-type” speech. I am glad that he is saying something, but I’ve yet to divine what it is he is trying to say.

We all know for certain we are in drought cycle. We all know that the fires are getting worse because of that cycle. We all know that our firefighting forces aren’t doing enough to address fires and put them out, even though they were informed earlier on a problem was in the making.

And, we all know that with our population, we still have to call in help from around the globe.

And STILL our summers have become smoke-choked misery. It wasn’t always this way.

Summer is just months away. How’s it to be this time around?
Sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice. There’s a certain point at which ignorance becomes malice, at which there is simply no way to become THAT ignorant except deliberately and maliciously.

Unknown
User avatar
Drip_Torch
Guru
Posts: 6616
Joined: Aug 16th, 2012, 10:56 am

Re: Canadian Wildfire Season - 2023

Post by Drip_Torch »

Hi Catsumi, I'll take another crack at it...

Generally speaking, you own the fuel, you own the fire. Put another way, he who lights it pays the bills that fight it. It's been a long time since I've had anything to do with slash or prescription burning and I'm not a RPF (forester) - I was a fire guy that could jump through the regulatory hoops to get the permits. Sometimes that was a big process and had to involve a RPF, most often not. Sometimes the Province would monitor my project pretty close, often not. The onus was always on the registrant and I don't see anything in the regulations that changes that today.
Catsumi wrote: Feb 5th, 2024, 5:41 pm If I had my wish, it’d be that DT speak plainly instead in paragraphs galore of “govt-type” speech. I am glad that he is saying something, but I’ve yet to divine what it is he is trying to say.


Overall, I'm saying we've got some big changes to make in the way we live with and manage fire. There's a lot of complexity and there are no simple solutions anymore. At the risk of sounding "gov't-type" I'd say we have to reimagine the siloed, centralized and rigid decision making within our institutions and come up with a more holistic approach. All hands on deck - we need to start coming at this from a bunch of different angles.

(OMG - no one has ever accused me of "gov't type speech" before. I must need a vacation.)

You're right. We have lots of data. I wonder if I couldn't come back and approach it with some anecdotes that help you understand where I'm coming from? Yes, I really do like that Bezos take on "truth telling" and towards the end of the video he says, "a lot of our most powerful truths are based on anecdotes". Maybe I could put together a few that resonate? I'll give it some thought.
Babba_not_Gump wrote: Feb 5th, 2024, 3:45 pm I worked on an initial attack crew one year on Vancouver Island. Two crews of four or five guys and a tanker truck. Does the Ministry still have initial attack crews?
Yep, they sure do. Each zone has a number of IA crews and that's adjusted as the season and conditions progress. They were three person crews for a number of years. Last year I believe they went back to four person crews. Then there are the established unit crews, I believe those are typically 21 person. They also have the contract crews, interagency crews through CIFFC, and once they are beyond those resources they start drawing from the international partners.

Last year's weather presented a huge anomaly that affected how they manage crews. Typically our wildfire season starts up in the northeast corner of the Province and by the time things are heating up down here, they can start shifting those crews to the southern interior. Last year the Prince George region just never ended - in fact, it put on a big finale in late September - which happens, like almost never.
Drip Torch - an upright and steadfast keeper of the flame, but when tilted sideways the contents spill and then our destiny is in the wind...
User avatar
Catsumi
Buddha of the Board
Posts: 19356
Joined: May 24th, 2017, 8:26 pm

Re: Canadian Wildfire Season - 2023

Post by Catsumi »

Sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice. There’s a certain point at which ignorance becomes malice, at which there is simply no way to become THAT ignorant except deliberately and maliciously.

Unknown
User avatar
Catsumi
Buddha of the Board
Posts: 19356
Joined: May 24th, 2017, 8:26 pm

Re: Canadian Wildfire Season - 2023

Post by Catsumi »

Will $16 million make a difference in fire fighting performance?

https://www.castanet.net/news/BC/472450 ... -equipment
Sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice. There’s a certain point at which ignorance becomes malice, at which there is simply no way to become THAT ignorant except deliberately and maliciously.

Unknown
seewood
Guru
Posts: 6406
Joined: May 29th, 2013, 2:08 pm

Re: Canadian Wildfire Season - 2023

Post by seewood »

Catsumi wrote: Feb 14th, 2024, 10:01 pm Will $16 million make a difference in fire fighting performance?
perhaps with rank 1 and 2 fires and interface fires. Big fires... those are weather dependant.

Sounds like BC are considering more air asset contracts. That could be an interesting dynamic if everyone else is doing the same.
I am not wealthy but I am rich

Return to “Fire Watch”