Wildland Fire Prevention – We all have a role to play

Currie Dixon, MLA for Copperbelt North

As submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Friday, June 12th, 2015
by Currie Dixon, Minister of Community Services

Like many of you, I’ve been enjoying our beautiful Yukon weather, including the unseasonably warm temperatures and bright sunshine that we’ve had at times. It is great to get out and enjoy all that Yukon has to offer including spending time camping, hiking, and enjoying our wilderness. At the same time, warm and dry conditions also mean high levels of fire danger.

All of us need to be prepared, be aware, and exercise caution as we enjoy a great summer. We all have a role to play in fire safety. Homeowners can reduce risk of wildfire by properly installing and permitting backyard fire pits, cleaning up dead grass and forest debris, stacking firewood away from homes, and cleaning out rain gutters.

The Government of Yukon does its part by investing in FireSmart projects right across the territory. These projects put local contractors to work reducing the buildup of brush and deadfall and helping safeguard communities by educating Yukoners about fire safety. It is important to recognize that wildfire is a normal part of the landscape’s natural rejuvenation process. We manage wildfires in our territory using a zonation policy ranging from wilderness areas to transition areas, to strategic, full and critical zones.

In wilderness zones, we monitor fires and protect structures where necessary and feasible, but essentially let wildfires do their natural work. This may mean there are times when some of our communities experience smoke or spent ash, but the fires themselves are not threatening people or infrastructure.

If a fire moves into an area closer to more people or infrastructure, we begin to action or manage the fire with resources that include on-the-ground personnel, air tankers and helicopters.

Finally, in those cases in which fires occur close to our communities and infrastructure, our Wildland Fire Management professionals take immediate, effective and sustained action; those fires receive the highest priority.

Without fail, some fires each year are caused by human carelessness including failing to properly extinguish campfires or discarding a lit cigarette. Please remember to soak, stir, and repeat, when you are done with your campfire. Soak your fire with water, stir the ashes, and soak again. When your fire is fully out, your ashes will be cold to the touch and you can put your hand in them.

Please also be aware of the fire danger rating and honour fire bans when they are in effect. These bans are in place to protect not only you but also our shared infrastructure and communities.

If you spot a wildfire, immediately contact 1-888-798-FIRE (3473). You can also find out the latest information on the fire situation in the territory by visiting:

 
I would like to thank our Wildland Fire Management team members for all the hard work they have already done on our behalf this year. I would also like to thank those from other jurisdictions – including most recently Ontario – for providing personnel to help us when we need assistance.

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