The turnout at a recent FireSmart community event in Marten Beach might have been better had about half the community not still been reeling from a flood. But chief organizer of the barbecue, information session and demonstration Dan Tarney is calling it a success.
“I was glad to see so many people out given the trauma of recent events,” he says.
Tarney figures 50 to 60 people showed up for the event, which was held at the lot of Marten Beach Cottagers’ Society President Randy Elm and his wife Tamara. FireSmart Canada helped out, as did the Forest Protection folks from the Slave Lake Ag & Forestry branch. The Lesser Slave Regional Fire Service was there and gave a demonstration of a sprinkler on a rooftop, as well as doing some FireSmart work around a nearby lot (belonging to Bonnie Joy). Ryan Coutts, the chief of the fire service’s FireSmart crew, talked about ways cottage owners can reduce the risk of losing their homes when embers come flying in. One is to have metal roofs; another is to make sure the eaves troughs aren’t filled with burnable debris. And of course keeping grass mowed, needle trees trimmed up six feet or so and don’t store wood under your deck or next to your house. If all those precautions are taken, and with a sprinkler on your roof, chances are your structure will survive – even if embers are flying in ahead of a wildfire in the bush.
Tarney says this was the first time in several years of hosting a FireSmart community event in Marten Beach that the focus wasn’t on cleaning up dead wood in public areas. With that largely done, the emphasis from now on will be on people’s private lots.
“That will be the focus from here on in,” he says.
Helping in that effort will be a water tank on a trailer, with pump and hoses that has been proposed for the hamlet. It could make the difference in a situation where the fire hasn’t gotten too big or too out of control. One from Diamond North was provided for the event as an example.