The recent wildfire and evacuation at Fort McMurray shows how important it is for people living in forested areas to be prepared, according to Blackpool fire chief Scott Thomas.
That was why the fire department held an open house on June 26.
“We want to increase fire awareness so people know what to do to protect themselves and their property, and how to proceed if ordered to evacuate,” he said.
“We do live in an interface area,” the fire chief said. “The more people can prepare, the more we can enjoy living in this natural environment.”
Between 40 and 50 people took part in the open house. Most were from Blackpool, but others came from Clearwater, Vavenby and Upper Clearwater.
Blackpool Fire Department presently has about 17 volunteers on its roster, Thomas said, but is always looking for more.
The department has invested in a variety of specialized equipment to help deal with interface fires, said deputy fire chief Mike Savage.
The equipment is not necessarily high tech or expensive. For example, a line of simple lawn sprinklers can create a humidity fire break.
Similarly, sprinklers attached to a building’s roof can create a humidity dome, helping to protect the structure from fire.
The department can connect the sprinklers to portable 250 gallon tanks in cages that contain enough water to last several hours.
Blackpool has four of these tank-cages while Clearwater has another four.
The two fire departments have coordinated so they have the same fittings for hydrants and tankers – useful in a mutual aid situation.
The Blackpool department also has several water bladders that can be dropped off and filled.
These, plus a 2,500 gallon tank in the second floor of the fire hall, help to overcome the disadvantage of having no town fire hydrants.
Blackpool’s trucks also carry forest fire fighting tools such as pulaskis and lightweight forestry attack water hose, Savage said.
Inset photo: Blackpool deputy fire chief Mike Savage stands with one of the department’s four tank-cages. The tanks can be used to supply a line of sprinklers to help control wildfires.
Below: Youngsters (l-r) Harris, Ryan, Parker and Troy use hand-pumped extinguishers to put out a small fire. Standing safely behind them is Wes Morden.