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After the flames, Kamloops studying fire-mitigation techniques for the future

Development and choosing specific tree species to plant are two areas to be discussed
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Michael Humphrey was just one of those fighting the Tremond Creek fire near Logan Lake in the summer of 2021 who received a visible thank you.

On the heels of a historic fire season, the city is looking at fire-mitigation techniques. Coun. Kathy Sinclair, speaking at Monday’s (Sept. 27) development and sustainability committee meeting, said she has heard from numerous residents about a desire to implement a fire-mitigation technique utilized by Logan Lake, which involves installation of sprinklers on the roofs of buildings.

The Tremont Creek wildfire threatened the community of Logan Lake in the summer and its fire department and mayor have since touted its FireSmart program for helping to protect structures.

No buildings burned, despite the fire encroaching into municipal boundaries. A fire also sparked on Canada Day in Kamloops between the residential neighbourhoods of Valleyview and Juniper Ridge. No structures were lost, but flames came near to homes. 

“I know we’re doing a lot,” Sinclair told the committee on Monday. “I wondered if there are other ideas that we could be looking into as this has become a more urgent matter and we are expecting more wildfires, unfortunately.”

The city’s development, engineering and sustainability director, Marvin Kwiatkowski, said he met last week with Kamloops Fire Rescue Chief Steve Robinson to discuss fire-mitigation planning. He said the city is also initiating brainstorming sessions internally across departments. With significant wildfires and resulting smoke in the three of the past five years, Kwiatkowski said the issue is topical and it is worthwhile to examine different practices. 

“We need to make sure we’re current and we’re following best practices,” he said, noting development and choosing specific tree species to plant are two areas that can be discussed.

City CAO David Trawin said the city has applied for a wildfire interface grant and is co-ordinating with the province to conduct prescribed burns.

As for rooftop sprinklers in Kamloops, Trawin said if sprinklers had been on roofs in Juniper during the Canada Day fire, there would not have been sufficient water supply to douse the lightning-ignited blaze. 

“It’s kind of a catch-22 on where we do that,” Trawin said, adding the city has some larger sprinklers for use to protect structures and the city has also considered purchasing additional sprinklers to be deployed during emergencies that would allow the city to control water usage.