The lead story in the July 12, edition of the Lakes District News, ‘Chinook group fighting recent Area E fires,’ is a bit misleading. The Chinook Emergency Response Society (CERS) does not fight fires and does not direct others to fight fires. The society helps communities organize, communicate and coordinate local resources to prepare for and respond to wildfire and other emergencies.
CERS also provides accurate information about ongoing fires and emergencies, but it is community members who choose to volunteer their time and personal resources to respond to these events. And the community is fortunate to have dozens and dozens of individuals that continually turn up.
A large part of the society’s work during the winter and spring has been building relationships and addressing community concerns with other organizations. Local BC Wildfire Service (BCWS) and Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako staff have met regularly with CERS to hear directly about concerns and create plans for how the community and these organizations can best work together. This work has helped streamline how community and BCWS respond to wildfires in the area as well as how evacuation alerts and orders are rolled out and enforced. From a community perspective, there has been a huge improvement since 2018.
We have received messages from all over Canada acknowledging the proactive steps that the community has taken, but there is still a lot of work to do to improve emergency preparedness and response in the region. We are now just over halfway through this fire season and the society’s board and other community volunteers will continue to plan for the worst and hope for the best.
On behalf of the CERS board,