In this post election issue we comment on our new federal  governments lack of comment on a national wild fire strategy, we offer rave reviews on a WorkSafeBC’s surprisingly dramatic industrial safety video, and we spread a rumour that the U.S. may be considering banning international callouts for fire fighting—stay tuned to see if it is true and then think if we should do the same…

Warning: Some of the contents of this issue refer to political promises and should not be confused with facts.

Trudeau’s 184 Promises Don’t Include Forestry and Wild Fire

Did rural views on forest fires and fuels management escape Trudeau’s attention?

Did rural views on forest fires and fuels management escape Trudeau’s attention?

Even though the recent Canadian election carried on during harrowing wild fire events here in B.C., preceded by the same in Saskatchewan, the 78-day election failed to produce any mention of forestry or wild fire among the Liberal Party of Canada’s 184 election promises. Former Prime Minister Harper did visit Kelowna and promise to look at a national fire strategy after the election. But subsequent events seem to have precluded him following through on that. Why our Prime Minister designate appears to have been silent on this may be mostly about a missed opportunity on the part of those of us with a stake in better managing the provincial landscape to reduce the threat of wild fire. Trudeau may just not have heard much about wild fire and acted accordingly. At the same time, his party’s renewed strength does come primarily from urban ridings, and it is likely his priorities will reflect that. This distribution of influence also reflects national demographics. Nevertheless, the rural perspective on things like mitigating disastrous wild fires needs to get our federal government. Next week we will have a new federal cabinet. That will begin an opportunity to impress Ottawa that it needs to make a strong commitment to forestry and mitigating wild fire. Organizations like the WSCA will need to prepare to lead that, or risk missing another chance, of which there may be few given all the promises this government has made.

WorkSafeBC Emergency Reponse Video Gets Rave Reviews

Industrial safety training videos can be, well, dull. For example it’s not always easy to make hotel housekeeping, or the proper handling of storm sewer grates exciting. But WorkSafeBC’s recently released Every Minute Counts warrants rave reviews. Using the narrative of getting an injured forest worker from the block to an ambulance, the eight minutes-plus video tracks how easily an emergency can go off the tracks. Well acted and nicely paced the drama tactfully lays out how your emergency plans might not go as planned when they run into reality. The video, of course, isn’t a tragedy. They do get to the ambulance. But there is enough doubt sown in the video to make safety managers think about their own abilities to deal with an emergency. Which is what is intended and is why everyone should see the video at Video instructional and support guides, including the worthwhile Emergency Response Planning: 12 Tips for an effective emergency response plan, are available from WorkSafeBC.

U.S. May Ban International Call Outs for Wild Fire Suppression

The U.S. Congress is now considering a number of major bills related to wildfire. Among their proponents is Washington State U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell. Given her state’s history lately, she has been working on comprehensive fire legislation soon to be released as the Wildland Fire Management Act of 2015. In a previous related white paper Cantwell outlined reforms and proposals around disaster management, victim compensation, fuels management, husbanding of suppression resources and ecosystem restoration. Sources close to her office say the Act will ban international call outs for wild fire suppression based in part on the principal that the U.S. should be prepared and able to muster its own resources. Just what this might mean in practice is unclear. And whether it will survive the Congressional gauntlet is another issue.

Nevertheless, if there is an analogy here in B.C., it could be that the province needs to examine events in the U.S. and consider strategies to better create and encourage capacity among its own provincial resources, in particular the contract fire suppression services community. The WSCA believes part of the “new normal” around fire should include fostering a more reliable and capable contract fire fighting sector as a way of husbanding provincial resources and more effectively fighting wild fires in the future.

Off-Road Vehicle Registration Comes Into Effect 1 November

Originally anticipated last spring, but delayed until this fall, vehicle registration and safety provisions will now be mandatory at the beginning of November as part of the Province’s Off-Road Vehicle Act.