DNVFRS hosts wildfire training exercise

A group of District of North Vancouver firefighters in red wildfire fighting gear stand by a yellow helicopter

The smoke billowing from the forest was theatrical, like the kind used in movies, but the scenario could be real.

In mid-September, the District of North Vancouver Fire & Rescue Service (DNVFRS) staged a multi-agency exercise that simulated a wildfire burning at Rolf (Lost) Lake in the Seymour Watershed.

“The exercise was designed to incorporate the main skills taught in our Initial Attack Crew course to attack and control a wildfire on the North Shore aggressively,” says DNVFRS Chief Brian Hutchinson. “We selected this location to provide a challenge to our crews.”

The Metro Vancouver Watershed Protection Initial Attack Crew, which specializes in backcountry firefighting, also participated in the full-day training. In addition, Talon Helicopters supported the exercise by providing reconnaissance and moving crews and equipment from the fire site. Other agencies such as BC Wildfire Service provided support or participated as observers.  

Staying wildfire ready

Even though the fire danger rating at the Seymour Watershed and across the municipality is now Low and the devastating wildfire season in BC has ended, District firefighters and their partner agencies don’t stop training to respond to potential wildfires.

The municipality has a large area where the community meets the forest, known as the wildland-urban interface, making wildfires an ongoing threat. That’s why the District has emerged as a leader in emergency mitigation, preparedness and response.

The District’s Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP), updated in 2020, is a detailed document that helps the DNV prepare for, respond to and recover from wildfires.

The DNVFRS’ community FireSmart program provides residents with information to better protect their homes from wildfires through landscaping practices, fire-resistant building materials and other tactics.

During the dry season, DNVFRS and other District departments meet weekly with North Shore partners to discuss potential fire dangers and preparedness tactics. Firefighters also work with personnel on construction sites to mitigate risks when the fire danger rating reaches high or extreme.

In 2019, the District and other North Shore response agencies completed the multi-year “Dry Lightning” interface fire exercise series that progressed in complexity to include multi-site suppression efforts, air support, evacuation notification, evacuee support and the mobilization of the North Shore Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) for strategic support.

Provincial deployment

This summer, 29 DNV firefighters and four chief officers were deployed into areas in BC that were severely hit by wildfires, including the Village of Lytton.

“We’ve spent years building up our readiness, expertise and resources and were able to help others while maintaining vigilance and capacity here on the North Shore. The experience and lessons have been brought back to the North Shore and are culminating in this exercise,” says Chief Hutchinson.

DNVFRS encourages citizens to educate themselves in FireSmart and general emergency preparedness.

For more:

How you can reduce the risk of wildfire
Get prepared                   
FireSmart BC

Watch a video about the exercise 

Chief Brian Hutchinson talks about the wildfire training exercise at Rolf (Lost) Lake.