It was a busy summer for members of the Forest Grove Volunteer Fire Department, with a large wildfire at South Canim Lake and several smaller blazes in the community during the hot, dry spell.
While the crews weren’t tasked with directly fighting any of the fires, they did support BC Wildfire with building fire guards, patrolling and assisting the structural protection teams that were deployed to residences and business on South Canim Lake.
“We did several tours through that area, more so giving the community of South Canim a bit of a sense of relief and support,” Fire Chief Shannon Wagner said.
Despite the hectic fire season, the department, one of 14 halls run by the Cariboo District, is showing no signs of slowing down. The department, which operates out of two halls in the Forest Grove/Canim Lake area, currently sits at 28 members.
Two of their members – Andrew Grey and Janette Blahut – recently completed their first-responder ‘train the trainer’ course, qualifying them to train others at their hall as well as other departments around the region. Two-thirds of all calls to the Forest Grove department are for medical emergencies rather than fires.
“They’re currently training five individuals to become licensed first responders,” Wagner said. “We are dispatched through BC Ambulance, and having that extra training, which comes through (Emergency Medical Assistants) licensing, it’s very extensive and involved.”
Another exciting endeavour on the department’s books is helping a Ruth Lake community become an official “FireSmart Neighbourhood.”
Deputy Chief Michelle Meeker is working with residents along Archie White Road to apply for the recognition status, which requires several criteria based on wildfire prevention to be met.
If the application is successful, it would make the neighbourhood the first in the South Cariboo to be recognized under the FireSmart Canada Neighbourhood Recognition Program, according to a database online.
“If we can get communities on board to understand that if the fire doesn’t start in the first place, that’s the ideal scenario,” Wagner said.
With Fire Prevention Week just wrapped up, crews from both halls were in the community going door-to-door to check that smoke and carbon monoxide detectors were in good working order.
The main Forest Grove hall also hosted an open house this past weekend, where the public could meet some of the volunteers and get a close-up look at the vehicles and equipment.
“It’s nice to see what your tax dollars are paying for,” Wagner said.
New members are always welcome in both the Forest Grove and Canim Lake communities, and Wagner said that you don’t have to be young and in peak physical form to be a benefit to the department.
“Everyone brings a different skill set to the group,” she said.