The Simpcw Indigenous Initial Attack Crew take a break while working on the Raft River FSR (K22068) fire. Pictures (l-r) are: Travis Mackenzie, Sheldon Eustache, Shane Celesta and Arnie Bowie. (Simpcw First Nation photo)

The Simpcw Indigenous Initial Attack Crew take a break while working on the Raft River FSR (K22068) fire. Pictures (l-r) are: Travis Mackenzie, Sheldon Eustache, Shane Celesta and Arnie Bowie. (Simpcw First Nation photo)

Indigenous Initial Attack partnership with BC Wildfire

Boots already on the ground protecting Simpcw First Nation territory

Simpcw First Nation Councilor Ron Lampreau Jr. is the Chu Chua Volunteer Fire Department Chief. He also wears the title of EOC Director for the Band.

Lampreau reports the Band recently signed an agreement with the BC Wildfire Service in regards to being able to quickly act on any new fires that may appear within Simpcw territory.

“The agreement is called an Indigenous Initial Attack Initiative where we will have our own initial attack group dispatched directly from the fire center,” said Lampreau.

He notes the agreed upon service area is “about a 100 to 150 kilometer radius with the home base of Chu Chua, so the crew is always here to protect our local resources and our territory”.

The new team is made up of four firefighters (three crew members and one crew boss) and at the time of this writing all four were actively working on the eastern flank of the Sparks Lake Wildfire.

Lampreau notes the current agreement is a seasonal pilot project.

“BC Wildfire wants to try it and then hopefully roll it out with other First Nations next year.”

He says he brought forward this project idea after the 2017 wildfires.

“I had all the right people in the room, but it never gained any traction, they all thought it was a good idea. Then when it came to who was going to fund it, it just kind of stopped in its tracks.”

However, given the fire season that has taken place this year, Lampreau says the project was picked up again, “and within three days I was pitching this idea to the minister and then the pilot project followed.”

He notes their goal is for the team to be “comprised of Simpcw band members from Chu Chua. That’s what we are shooting for, and we think that if this expands anymore we can provide the equipment and personal that is needed.

“Yes, it’s great the project actually came through, and BC Wildfire has been really good.”

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B.C. Wildfires 2021bc wildfiresDistrict of BarriereIndigenous