With summer just around the corner, Metro Vancouver is preparing for potential wildfires in areas that provide the region’s drinking water supply.
Through the Watershed Wildfire Protection Program, trained staff with expertise in wildfire management will be closely monitoring conditions during the 2020 fire season. The watersheds have historically had a low incidence of fire, due in large part to restricted public access to those areas.
The primary cause of fires is from lightning strikes. Rapid discovery using real-time lightning detection software, staff patrols, local air traffic, and public reports allows most fires to be found while they are still small and can be extinguished quickly.
The program uses three-person fire crews, off-road fire trucks and helicopters to quickly deploy resources to reported fires. It also includes equipment that can be deployed at remote sites and a system of fire weather monitoring stations that provide real-time information on conditions. Longstanding resource sharing agreements support a strong relationship between Metro Vancouver and the Provincial Coastal Fire Center.
Protecting the watersheds from fire is a requirement of Metro Vancouver’s 999-year lease on watershed lands. In addition to providing services within the three water supply areas and the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve, the Watershed Wildfire Protection Program is also the primary Provincial wildfire response contact for Electoral Area A, and assists with fires in regional parks.