Creston Fire Rescue members got more than they expected when they met for their regular training session recently.
“A call came from Emergency Management BC to request support for Christina Lake and Grand Forks residents,” said Capt. Eric Graham. “From what I heard the weather forecast projected high winds and that’s what triggered the deployment of resources from other B.C. communities.”
Graham, the Town of Creston bylaw enforcement officer, doubles as a firefighter. With expected high winds in the Boundary area for a few days, he and three other Creston Fire Rescue members packed their gear into Engine No. 2 and were headed westward at 2 a.m. Aug. 27.
“We met up in Castlegar with crews from Pass Creek and Kaslo, as well as the Castlegar Fire Department,” Graham said. “We all arrived in Christina Lake early on Friday morning to check in with the operations section chief.”
The team remained in Christina Lake, participating in plans to respond to any interface fires (where forests meet residential areas). The crews also familiarized themselves with the area and located water supplies.
With winds picking up in velocity, the team moved to Grand Forks on Aug. 29.
“It looked like fire was a greater danger there at the time,” Graham said. “There was lots of smoke and ash in the air. Fortunately, the fire didn’t move as expected in those high winds.”
That evening, the Creston group returned to Christina Lake and a welcome rainfall began.
“The rain was enough to lower the risk and the word came to demobilize all the interface forces staying at Christina Lake.”
By 2 p.m. Aug. 30, the firefighters and truck were back in Creston.
The opportunity to work with other fire departments and forestry firefighters was good training, allowing the team to gain knowledge about how to set up and work together at a potential interface fire site.
“I’m glad we could offer assistance,” Graham said. “The people in Grand Forks and Christina Lake were very appreciative of the support they received from other communities. It clearly meant a lot to them.”
In a report to Creston town council last week, fire Chief Mike Moore said costs incurred will be covered by a previously negotiated agreement.
“Based on the reimbursement rates and guidelines, an invoice for 36 hours at $565 per hour ($20,340) was sent to Regional District of Kootenay Boundary,” Moore said in his report. “This all found rate includes travel time, mileage, wages for personnel and maintenance.”
Moore said that the ability to respond to local emergencies was not jeopardized while the truck and crew were away.
“With the engine (slated) for West Creston fire protection still located at the municipal fire station, there was no reduction in the fire engine pumping capacity for the Town of Creston or fire protection areas,” he said. “Additionally, with the automatic aid agreement, both Wynndel and Canyon fire departments were advised of the decision to send a fire engine to assist and were placed on standby for all fire responses.”