Cranbrook City Council is supporting a $25,000 grant application from Cranbrook Fire and Emergency Services to try to acquire new equipment and training resources for combatting local wildfires.

Although Cranbrook firefighters focus on structure fires within the community, the demand from the BC Wildfire Service to aid in calls on the community’s outlying borders is shedding light on a local need.

“What we’re seeing over the past number of years with the change in the wildfire situation in British Columbia is an increasing demand for our services in the wildfire urban interface. We’re seeing increased frequency requests from the Province and increased duration of events that we attend at,” Scott Driver told MyEastKootenayNow.com, Acting Director of Cranbrook Fire and Emergency Services. “The fires are getting more frequent, they’re getting worse and our staff are in need of some more wildfire appropriate gear that’s dedicated to that service alone.”

Driver said they have cross-utilized other equipment in the past, which still follows all of the appropriate safety protocols and guidelines, but that better equipment is out there that the Cranbrook Fire Department could acquire through the grant application.

The $25,000 is the maximum allowable funds for the Composite Fire Departments Equipment and Training Grant, which is administered through the UBCM’s (Union of BC Municipalities) Community Emergency Preparedness Fund.

Driver told MyEastKootenayNow.com that Cranbrook’s municipal boundary, like many mountain communities, is surrounded by forest and that with the increasing size and duration of wildfire events, the BC Wildfire Service is looking to municipalities more and more in a first response role.

“We’re happy to assist because it does protect the community but it does create a few unique challenges to the municipal fire service,” said Driver. “Where we’re used to short-duration events with really high heat and you go in you go out, we’ve been focused almost solely on that for quite a long time and now we’re finding ourselves more and more during the summer months – and those summers are getting longer – focusing on these long-duration wildfire events where we need to be properly equipped to do that work.”

Driver said the $25,000 is a big item to just push through the budget, so he’s grateful for Cranbrook City Council’s backing and support of the grant application.

Cranbrook Fire and Emergency Services is expecting to hear back from the UBCM on their grant application in the coming months.

More: Council Support for Community Emergency Preparedness Fund Grant Application (City of Cranbrook)