With major forest fire fighting efforts now underway in B.C., Ontario and elsewhere, residents and visitors in west central Alberta are reminded of the need to do all they can to prevent unwanted fires in this region.
With resources of men and equipment being stretched to meet the current out-of-province demands, any new forest fires in Alberta will necessarily represent a wholly unwanted drain on resources that are badly needed elsewhere.
And while some forest fires are not preventable, such as those started by lightning, fires caused by human activity are almost always preventable.
According to Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, there are many things people can do to ensure that visits to forested areas don’t end up causing fires, and in turn, putting people and property at risk.
Those key preventive measures include ensuring that any campfires are well and truly out when leaving a campsite, never setting off fireworks in unsafe conditions, and making sure that all-terrain vehicles such as quads and motorbikes do not ignite dry grasses.
As the recent tragic death of Alberta firefighter Jerry Gadwa at the Red Lake, Ont. forest fire highlights, there are many dangers associated with fire suppression in Canada’s vast forest areas.
“As Albertans, we know all too well the sacrifices of our firefighters and first responders,” said Premier Rachel Notley. “We are one country and we look out for one another. Mr. Gadwa and his fellow firefighters were in Ontario fighting to defend the well-being of their fellow Canadians.
“The sacrifice they and their families make is extraordinary and is felt heavily in hearts throughout Alberta and across Canada.”
With firefighters such as Mr. Gadwa prepared to put their lives at risk to battle forest fires in this province and across Canada, ordinary residents and visitors in this region can and should do their part in preventing fires in the first place.
Forest fire safety is everyone’s business, particularly when one careless misstep can lead to tragedy and heartbreak for families and friends.
Dan Singleton is the Mountain View Gazette editor.