CANADA – While the world deals with the COVID-19 crisis, hundreds of British Columbians are hard at work preparing for the possibility of a different type of crisis.
Earlier this month, the BC Wildfire Service posted to Twitter, showing off the training regimes that soon-to-be firefighters are going through, in preparation for the 2020 wildfire season.
Three weeks later, the world is a very different place, with businesses closed and people self isolating, all in an attempt to slow the transmission rate of COVID-19 in the community, and save lives.
While the BC Wildfire Service continues to hire and train firefighters for the coming season, they have also been adapting to the new virus-related challenges.
“We are developing protocols related to physical distancing and other precautions to support crews while they respond to wildfires,” said Jody Lucius, the BC Wildfire Service.
“We are also committed to finding innovative ways to work differently, if necessary, and maintain our ability to respond to wildfires.”
Lucius said they are looking at alternate ways to deliver new recruit bootcamps, crew leader camps and the standard fitness testing if possible.
“However, some training programs may have to be delivered in person. In those cases, precautions (such as reducing group sizes) will be taken to reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure,” she said.
The BCWS is currently preparing for both the fire season and the upcoming spring freshet, when possible flooding may occur. During the extensive Okanagan flooding in 2017, BCWS crews played a vital role in sandbagging impacted areas.