This Newfoundland fire department has partnered with an ATV group to fight wildfires

·2 min read
ATV riders in Victoria are helping the local fire department to prevent wildfires.  (CBC - image credit)
ATV riders in Victoria are helping the local fire department to prevent wildfires. (CBC - image credit)

The fire department in the Town of Victoria in Conception Bay North has partnered with its local ATV riding group to combat wildfires after a couple of years of struggling to keep up.

Justin Parsons, chief of the Victoria volunteer fire department,said this week the community was seeing about 25 wildfires each summer up to 2019 — a lot for a municipality of only 1,800 people.

"We had a major issue. There was still this thought process that burning grass was a good thing to do to get your grass to grow back better. Burning brush and that kind of stuff was happening," he said.

The fire department launched a social media campaign to push for fire prevention and better fire safety. So far, Parsons said, the campaign has been working.

Along with the prevention campaign, the volunteer fire department kitted itself out with gear dedicated to wild fires.

"We had structural bunker gear, which we still have, which is very heavy. It's a different kind of kind of firefighting compared to the wild land-urban interface," Parsons said.

"We went out and purchased wild land PPE, wild land coveralls — personal protective equipment — we purchased some forestry hose, which is lighter than our structural hoses, forestry nozzles, backpacks, to deal with the issue."

Department of Fisheries, Forestry and Agriculture/Twitter
Department of Fisheries, Forestry and Agriculture/Twitter

Parsons said the community now sees only five to 10 wildfires in the summer.

But there was still room for more help. Parsons said his fire department has been donating gloves and shirts to ATV riders who are maintaining their trails.

"When they're in the woods cutting trails and those types of things for ATVs to make ATVs safer, they're also cutting fire breaks and easier accessibility for us to get in to fight a forest fire," he said.

"That's where we're too. It's been working for us."

As the summer continues, Parsons and his crew keep a close eye on the provincial fire warning index and issue bans on outdoors fires when conditions are extreme.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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