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October 27, 2017 4:17 pm

Quesnel Looks at Possible Changes to How Emergencies are Handled

Monday, July 31, 2017 @ 6:00 AM

Quesnel, B.C.- Although the wildfire season is far from over  and there are some who  fear it will become worse before it gets better,  the Mayor of Quesnel  is  suggesting there may be a case to re-think  how such  emergencies  are handled.

Mayor Bob Simpson  says  while Quesnel has not  yet had to  activate its Emergency Operations centre  during the current crisis,   Emergency Management  Committee meetings were being held daily to  keep track of the  situation and to  learn .

One of the areas Mayor Simpson would like to see  pursued is  the possibility of  breaking up the Cariboo-Chilcotin into  sub regions for emergency management  “The Cariboo -Chilcotin  is a huge area”  says Simpson  who adds  local knowledge of the  specific areas might have been  helpful in reducing some confusion.   Case in point,    the  Green Mountain fire,  which was originally labelled the Dragon Mountain fire.   Simpson says  those  living near Dragon Mountain  were concerned about their properties,  when in fact,  the actual  fire was happening on Green Mountain.  “I  certainly believe we could have avoided a lot of the confusion created during this most recent emergency  if we had been able to make more direct decisions here in the North Cariboo base on more local knowledge of our situation and  our geography.”

Simpson also points out  Quesnel is linked to Northern Health,  not Interior Health as is the case  in  Williams Lake and areas south of that city.

To add to  Quesnel’s case is the fact it has a permanent Wildfire Branch base at the Airport  and the Ministry of Transportation  has  its own office in Quesnel.

Simpson says  Quesnel  will collect  all of the lessons learned from the other  communities impacted by this season’s  wildfire activity, including  Prince George and Kamloops which were  host cities for evacuees.  He says  the information will be  presented to Quesnel Council later this summer  with the hopes of  getting approval to  work with an emergency management  specialist  in the development of a “comprehensive and detailed plan” the City of Quesnel can  use  should there be a  wildfire  emergency in the future.




In my opinion the whole damn thing needs to be reviewed! The PG Fire Centre is large as it is but Quesnel should be apart of the PG Fire Centre. Quesnel is stuck between two cities and they could have helped out with the evacuations too, the highway was not closed between PG and Quesnel. Quesnel was left out! I get there is more in PG and we handled it great but don’t leave a city out that has potential to help out. The closest fire burning near Quesnel is 100 km west of it. For those who evacuated early from Williams Lake before the order came out could have stayed in Quesnel and some could have made it a bit further and stayed here. Next time use all available resources and not just half because one city is bigger than the other. That is a bad excuse.

We are not prepared for any disaster until it happens. That’s the sad part. The mayor of a city that was left out of a huge incident would be disappointed no one turned to them for help.

Some consideration should be given to utilizing people in the various communities to help fight these fires. Seems to me that we have a situation where hundreds if not thousands of able bodied men are sitting around waiting for the fires to be put out by **professionals**. These people could be put on the fire lines in some areas to help contain the fires. That’s how these fires were fought back in the day and it seemed to be as effective an approach as we now have.

We could have people in the communities trained to fight fires and pay them to do so, that way we have people in the different areas ready and able to respond to fires immediately.

In any event I agree that the whole process should be reviewed.

On the other hand the way things are burning, and getting killed by pine/spruce beetles/clear cutting, etc; perhaps our forests are in their twilight years.

I don’t know if this is urban legend or not but I heard a long time ago, officials would walk into bars and taverns in the afternoon and if you were sitting in there drinking beer and you didn’t have a job, you were sent to fight fires.
Based on the new realities of drier forests and possibly larger fires, maybe mandatory fire training for EI recipients and maybe put them all on mop up duty until they can find work. Certainly adds a couple of lines of job experience to their resumes.

    You got that right. It is a fact that’s how fire control people were recruited in local bars. I was never recruited but I know of people that were. Fact is I never had time to drink beer in a bar.

    I’d rather not have to supervise people that are likely to be (at best) liabilities. As far as people who are on EI and actually WANT to work- absolutely. The “conscript from the bar” days are long over, and for good reason.

    I was under the impression they did away with locals fighting local fires because it eliminated the arson for work problem that was happening in some locations… so the policy of backing up a bus at the local bar and drafting firefighters by court order was stopped, and a new policy of bringing in fire fighters from further away communities was implimented, thus not allowing locals to fight their own fires and get paid for it was a step to prevent deliberate arson for work.

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