Lessons to be learned from wildfire response

Responding to wildfires

"Out of difficulties grow miracles." — Jean de la Bruyere

In the face of adversity, a community’s spirit is truly tested.

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of uncertainty, fear, and chaos, but with every dark night comes a bright day.

As we return to our homes, it’s essential not just to pick up the physical pieces but also to rebuild the spirit of our society, learning and preparing for the future. A lion's share of gratitude belongs to the incredible heroes who were our first line of defence and support.

The fire departments, firefighters worked tirelessly, showcased not just their professional excellence but also a commitment that goes beyond duty. Their courage was mirrored by countless volunteers who, despite personal losses and risks, stepped forward. Their selfless acts remind us we are truly stronger together. Their ceaseless dedication was the backbone of our emergency response.

It's was heartening to witness visits from Premier David Eby and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Their presence wasn’t just a sign of support but a beacon of hope for the investments needed for Kelowna area's resurgence. It's essential that these visits, filled with promises of support and financial pledges, translate into tangible actions and meaningful contributions.

As outlined by Kelowna’s mayor, and the chairman of the Regional District of Central Okanagan’s board, our community doesn’t just need temporary relief. We need a sustainable plan for prevention, preparedness and rapid response for any future adversities.

As we navigate the aftermath, it's crucial to remember the lessons this catastrophe has taught us.

We need to ask some important questions, such as, is there a better way to fight wildfires? The unity displayed by all the firefighters was remarkable, but could we have used more resources, and could we have used them earlier?

Are we doing everything we need to in our management of our forests? What can we do to reduce the number of wildfires, and keep them at bay where they interface with communities?

How can we best support our community during an evacuation? How do we expedite this process, and give more assistance to thosewho are out of their homes?

The volunteers were amazing, but the process was not able to accept the volume of evacuees in the timeframe necessary. We need to learn from this and move at a faster pace.

Preparation and community awareness are our best tools against future threats. Let’s champion investments in state-of-the-art firefighting equipment, robust emergency training for residents, and a detailed evacuation blueprint for every neighbourhood.

It’s imperative we don't just return to normalcy but evolve into a society better prepared, more united and profoundly grateful for the ties that bind us.

Our journey of recovery is just beginning, but with the heroes by our side and the lessons in our heart, there's no challenge that is too daunting.

My question to you is this:

What did you see or experience that B.C. needs to change about how this process was managed?

I love hearing from you and read every email. Please email me at [email protected] or call the office at 250-712-3620.

Renee Merrifield is the BC United MLA for Kelowna-Mission.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Renee Merrifield is the BC United MLA for Kelowna - Mission and the Opposition critic for Environment and Climate Change, as well as Gender, Equity and Inclusion.  She currently serves on the Select Standing Committee for Finance as well.

A long-time resident of Kelowna, Renee started, and continues to lead, many businesses from construction and development to technology. Renee is a compassionate individual who cares about others in the community, believes in giving back and helping those in need through service.

She values your feedback and conversation, and can be reached at [email protected] or 250.712.3620

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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