Everyone living in this area should attend Wednesday night’s meeting about the latest research into managing wildfires in and around urban areas.
A FireSmart Town Hall evening has been planned by organizers of the Western Wildfire Conference which begins Wednesday at the Grand Okanagan Resort and runs through Saturday.
Hundreds of firefighters and community representatives such as resource managers, real estate developers and subdivision planners from around North America will converge on Kelowna for the conference which features speakers from around the continent.
Wednesday night’s event will focus on community wildfire risk reduction and promote resident action through neighbourhood recognition programs, with speakers from both Canadian and U.S. initiatives.
It’s from 7 to 9 p.m. in the conference centre ballroom at the Grand and there’s no charge.
The conference is being put on by the Western Silvicultural Contractors’ Association.
Director John Betts says people don’t realize how much energy sits on the landscape in the form of dead trees, waiting for the right conditions to be released.
Firefighters are beginning to see the kind of wildfires that can’t be knocked out; they have to wait until they lay down.
Very intense, severe wildfires with extreme behaviour result from the conditions we’re seeing now.
“The theme of this conference is how to get ahead of them and alter the landscape; get the heat out of the woods,” he explained.
Such wildfires are not just about buildings at the interface of forest and urban development, but in urban areas as well because such fires often send sparks and burning debris far ahead of the wildfire itself, he noted.
The initial cost of fire suppression is not the only cost of wildfires. Costs are actually often many times higher in terms of such damage as the loss of a healthy watershed that acts to filter drinking water, he noted.
With that in mind, he said it’s important we plan ahead of time to interrupt the cycle and take the heat out of the landscape ahead of time.