He was the voice of calm and reassurance during the McDougall Creek wildfire.
Now West Kelowna fire chief Jason Brolund is taking what he learned in those tense August days to Ottawa. He’s part of a delegation from the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs (CAFC) that is seeking federal support to prevent another record-setting wildfire season.
“It certainly means more to me this year, to be able to do it because I can bring our story. The story about our community, about the disaster that we faced and how our community and our firefighters reacted to it,” Brolund told Castanet from his hotel room in the nation’s capital.
He wants more federal support for FireSmart principles and a stable, ongoing source of funding for fire departments.
“It’s important locally because of the increased call volume, the increased scope and scale of disasters we’re seeing – as evidenced by the fires this summer.
“Having increased funding to support our responses is critically important,” Brolund notes.
He would like to see a program similar to the Joint Emergency Preparedness Program, that was scrapped in 2013. It was a joint federal-provincial funding model that fire departments used to pay for everything from specialized equipment to training for emergencies like wildfires.
“So today, lots of conversations about how that program could be potentially be modernized and brought back to support the unique needs of of emergency responders across the country, whether it be for equipment or specialized training."
Brolund calls the meetings in Ottawa a unique opportunity to take the interest and attention that was paid to the fire that threatened his community and use it for the long term good in preparing for and preventing the next one.