Protecting the community of Witset from the John Brown Creek Fire  

Oct 13, 2023

the structural defense task force standing outside their firefighting vehicles

Photo credit: Chris Turner.

The structural defense task force was assembled to help protect the community of Witset which was on evacuation alert because of the John Brown Creek Fire.

The structural defense task force was deployed after Chris Turner, FNESS Fire Service Officer, arrived in the community of Witset on August 27 to assess the situation after being placed on evacuation alert. When he arrived, Turner touched base with the BC Wildfire Service (BCWS) Incident Commander and the decision was made to put in a resource request through BCWS for a Structural Protection Unit (SPU) and crew to start setting up sprinkler systems on the entire west side of the village. Smithers, Witset, Houston, Burns Lake, and FNESS soon responded and supported the community by lending their crews, firefighting apparatus, and structural protection equipment.

Upon completion of the structural protection sprinkler set up, the task force prepared to implement defense tactics in the village by practicing different wildland and urban interface scenarios.

To help reduce stress in the community, the Witset Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) used Facebook to provide the community with regular in-depth updates including pictures, video and information bulletins. This was crucial in helping to reduce stress the community was feeling and eased the minds of many within the village.

Holding daily update meetings between FNESS, Witset EOC, and BCWS ensured that all operation were transparent and properly communicated to everyone involved with the incident.