Emergency Management Oceanside (EMO) has seen an unusually high number of structure fires this year for the Parksville Qualicum Beach area.
Aaron Dawson, an emergency program co-ordinator for Parksville, went before Parksville city council on Monday, Oct. 4, to present an update on 2021.
The emergency program, for both the City of Parksville and the Town of Qualicum Beach, provides large-scale emergency support and disaster service to residents.
During his presentation, Dawson said a Hazard Risk and Vulnerability Analysis (HRVA), which determines a community’s risk level and its vulnerability to that hazard or risk, was renewed in 2019 in an 18-month process. The last HRVA was completed in 2009 using ‘older methodology.’
“When we balanced our hazards against our risks and our vulnerabilities, we said our number one risk is fire, be it structure fire or interface wildfire,” said Dawson. “In a normal year, we might see 15. And for some reason… We’ve only gone three quarters of the year and we’re at 35 already.”
In a podcast interview for PQBeat, an emergency program co-ordinator for Qualicum Beach, Rob Daman, said “Our region is increasing. The growth is happening, the population is growing. As we do welcome more residents into our regions, we’re going to see more of these events happen.”
During his presentation, Dawson noted that of the 35 activations they’ve seen, 13 were in Parksville, 3 were in Qualicum Beach and 19 were in the Regional District of Nanaimo. Twenty-one of those accumulated activations required Emergency Support Service (ESS).
Four EMO volunteers were also deployed to British Columbia’s interior this summer for wildfire support. Dawson said the four members assisted for 26 days, totalling 260 hours of support for the province.
“What that also meant is that we had volunteers behind them that had to step up and fill those voids because we’ve had all those activations this year. There’s never been much downtime for those wonderful volunteers that we have,” he said. ”Were just happy to be able to respond and support people that need it.”