District of Barriere Mayor Ward Stamer (File photo)

District of Barriere Mayor Ward Stamer (File photo)

How ready is Barriere for a wildfire emergency?

Mayor Ward Stamer says his town “is ready”

The District of Barriere has an Emergency Response and Evacuation Plan that can be found on their website at: https://barriere.ca/p/local-notices/ The plan is worth the few minutes it will take to learn about your community and the emergency preparedness planning that is in place. The District of Barriere is supported by the local volunteer fire department and regional fire departments through mutual aid agreements, including support and guidance from the Thompson Nicola Regional District (TNRD) emergency services department, for planning, response and evaluation of the emergency response plan.

The District of Barriere local EMP Emergency Management & Evacuation Plan is governed by mayor and council. The EMP is updated and reviewed annually. Municipal staff and members of council receive training and practice on possible hazards that could affect the district, and or the region. In the event of an emergency, mayor and council have the authority to send out an official evacuation order, in coordination with the TNRD emergency center, as well as declaring a state of emergency for supplemental provincial support and authority as required.

Each household in the community is responsible for their own emergency planning and kits. But as emergencies happen when least expected, residents are asked to take some time to get yourself prepared and to help others in the event of an emergency and or an evacuation due to fires or floods. Go to: Getprepared.gc.ca for a form to help get you started.

The Star/Journal interviewed Barriere’s Mayor Ward Stamer last Monday in regards to the community’s updated emergency plan. We asked the mayor what plans are in place for those who have no transportation should an evacuation be called?

“People do have to be responsible for themselves,” said Stamer, “But that said every community has a few residents who will need assistance in the event of an evacuation.”

He explained that assistance can be arranged, “But it is all in the asking. There is a responsibility for the individuals who will or may need assistance to reach out ahead of time to arrange for that help.

“I’ve had this conversation with district staff and they will be reaching out to the social community and other organizations to try and see if we can get a list of names of people without transportation, or are by themselves. Once we have determined that, we can then put a process into place whereby those people will be checked on if we have an evacuation.”

During emergency planning for ‘what if ’ scenarios, Stamer says the possibility of losing the power-line to the community has been discussed.

“We could lose the power-line at any time. We could lose the power line north of us and it could effect us similar to what happened the last time in 2003. Or we could have no power here and the fire could be south of us. I’ve reached out to staff and asked that question and the answer is ‘no we do not have any emergency power back up’.”

Stamer says everybody should already have a kit or something else ready and packed to go if there is an evacuation called.

“People should also have more than five bucks in the tank,” noting that if the power goes out so does the ability to pump gas.

How do people know if there is an emergency or an evacuation alert or order going into effect?

“If people have cell service, in our region the TNRD Voyent Alert is the best way to receive emergency notifications,” said the Mayor. To learn more or register for the TNRD Voyent Alert go to: https://www.tnrd.ca/

services/emergency-services/emergency-alerts/

What does the municipality do to help protect the community?

“The District continues to go around the boundaries looking at potential dry areas,” said Stamer, “The fire department was up at Armour Mountain last weekend watering things down around perimeters. We have stockpiled fuel for our generators for Bradford so we have the capacity to pump water out of both the Bradford wells now so we will have water. All our reservoirs are full and we’ll continue to keep them full, and yes we’re able to maintain our levels right now even with our irrigation. We believe its important for our irrigation, I know there’s lots of dry grass but it wouldn’t matter, with it being so dry we can’t put enough water on our grass to make a difference. But we do hope shrubs and gardens will stay healthy and not dry up.

“We believe where we are at with the water is fine, and if anything changes and we think we may have to have emergency restrictions we will let people know,” said tge Mayor, “We have the capacity to pump 400 gallons a minute from Bradford with the two wells, and right now and in the off season we are only using 250. So if things happen and we have to say ‘no more sprinkling’, we should have enough water to keep the fire trucks filling up. We also have extra fuel capacity so if we lose power we will be able to keep pumping water.

Stamer noted that the reservoir at the Louis Creek Industrial Park is also full providing an extra water supply.

“The fire department say they have full staffing levels right now. People are willing to stick around, they’re not leaving or anything like that.

“We’ve talked with BC Ambulance again, we’ve talked with First Responders, and RCMP, so everybody is ready.”

Stamer noted that if an emergency happens or a current one changes, the best way to get a correct information update will be to go to the new District of Barriere website at: https://www.barriere.ca/ or the TNRD website at: www.tnrd.ca

“Not Facebook,” said Stamer, “Yes we have links to Facebook, but the real official news is going to come through our website and the TNRD website for people to get the correct most up to date information from.

“As soon as we get to that level where we are even thinking about an evacuation alert, we will also be thinking

about the possibility of an evacuation order.

“I have also told council that if there are any council members that are going to be leaving the community, such as a day trip to Kamloops, we want to know where everybody is in case we have to make tough decision or something is going on. I want to know, because I’m going to be available, our CAO Bob Payette is going to be available, and staff is going to be available. Staff can still take holidays, but if we need all hands on deck everybody is going to be here. We’re ready.

“Yes – it’s dryer than 2003. These fires are starting to come weeks before they did in 2003, and the weather forecast does not look that favourable. Mother Nature will decide what she’s going to do, and we are going to have to react, we are prepared and hopefully we’re ready – and I think we are.”

What would he like to say to the citizens of Barriere in regards to being prepared to move on a moments notice?

“Just keep your eye on the ball, understand where you are, what you are doing. We are not asking you to change your daily routines, but just be mindful that if all of a sudden something happens be ready to see what’s going on by connecting to our

website, just in case there is any additional information. These things can happen rather quickly, as we saw last week with the Boulder Mountain Fire, we just have to be aware and ready – and I think we are.”

District of Barriere