The valley does not benefit from any municipal fire protection. The response time/distance from the nearest fires station is too great to be considered for insurance purposes, as well, we do not pay taxes to Squamish, so any response from Squamish FD would need to be approved by SLRD. Also, any fire truck that would respond to a fire out here would then be unavailable to respond to emergencies in Squamish- this would create some legal liability as they would be operating outside their jurisdiction.
For this reason, we pay very high insurance rates, as an “unprotected area”
Looking at creating our own fire plan, we are very limited in that we have no water mains/pressurised water to work with. Even if we could muster up a volunteer fire team (unlikely to be able to meet the stringent requirements) and some basic equipment, we would not have the means to provide appropriate fire protection to meet the requirements of insurance underwriters .The lack of pressurised mains water also means that independent home fire sprinklers are also mostly ineffective.
So the two major concerns for valley residents- no fire protection response and very high insurance premiums.
SPIEDR – Deluge Structure Protection System
Please view the SPIEDR System Brochure for more information regarding this protection system. We will be receiving this equipment September 2016.
What are the threats?
The valley floor is predominantly deciduous trees (cottonwood, alder, maple) which are more resistant to wildfire spread than coniferous and there are many areas of firebreak in the form of roads, fields and household landscaping, However the hillsides on both sides or the valley are mostly coniferous trees with very poor irrigation. Most of these trees become very dry and stressed during long periods of no precipitation. Although winds are usually light, in the past number of years we now see periodically very strong outflow gusting winds, which could be disastrous in a wildfire situation.
What can individuals do?
Individual homeowners should review the basics from the firesmart manual about removing fire fuel from the immediate vicinity of your home. This is paramount in stopping the spread of fire. As well, outdoor water sprinklers provide extremely good protection and are quite inexpensive – each home should have at least four, with enough garden hose to position them strategically. It would be good to plan in advance exactly how to deploy these to best effect, so that the defense can be instigated quickly and by anyone that is home at the time of a fire emergency. Some residents have mounted sprinklers permanently to their structures. During an evacuation, sprinklers may very well save your house.
Homeowners should have plans in place for evacuating animals and pets. Under ideal conditions, we may get an evacuation alert, which would give homeowners a timely warning to move livestock and animals, but plans should also be made in case of immediate evacuation.
Please see the literature on making your home firesmart http://bcwildfire.ca/Prevention/firesmart.htm.
What can the community do?
Firesmart rural community planning. We encourage all residents to join in becoming a firesmart community Please review https://www.firesmartcanada.ca/resources-library/protecting-your-community-from-wildfire.
We encourage everyone to sign up to the SLRD Alert notification system - this will be one of the first ways that a fire in the community will be communicated. http://www.slrd.bc.ca/services/emergency-management/slrd-alert-sign.
We will be posting regular bulletins from the Wildfire service on this website as they are issued. We are putting together a fire plan for the valley - this will identify (by GPS coordinates) access points to water for filling tanks, trucks etc. These have been located throughout the valley - from Pilchuk on the east to access points in the TFL. This information will be posted on a digital map of the valley available to BC Wildfire Service through our emergency co-ordinator at the SLRD.
We are putting together some basic equipment for first response to fire suppression - a trailer with a water tank and some pumps. These will be kept centrally in the community (on the foundation land) with regular deployment practises throughout the year. The goal is to have some way to respond and help contain any fire outbreaks in the valley until the wildfire professionals can get here.
We are not attempting to fight any structural fires- we just want to keep fire from spreading.
SLRD emergency response (Ryan Wainwright) and our elected rep (Tony Rainbow).
BC Wildfire Service : Because of our rather unique location, we have the attention of the BC Wildfire Services- we are at a very narrow entrance (between cliff and river) to the TFL38 - the only access road into the vast recreational area and tree farm and the only escape! During fire season, it is a priority for the province to make sure this road is accessible and safe, as well as being a major easy fire break before threatening built up residential areas. But don’t expect these guys to fight a house fire - if helicopters with water buckets arrive at the scene of a fire - they will be making sure the bush doesn’t catch fire. The house would be allowed to burn to the ground. It’s all about stopping contagion and the spread of wildfires.
The insurance industry : It is important that the insurance industry becomes actively involved with interface fire issues. They can be effective advocates for FireSmart homes and communities.
- Interface fire events are increasing in number and frequency.
- The cost of each interface fire incident is far greater than for a typical structural fire.
- Insurance companies have the means to motivate homeowners to take appropriate fire prevention action by rewarding (or penalizing) clients through their rate structure.
Once we have our community fireplan in place, we will make an effort to lobby insurance underwriters to provide some ongoing support in the form of directives and rate reductions.