Yellowknife firefighters invest in wildfire tools, training

A dry month of May has led the Yellowknife fire department to begin preparing for wildfire season. Chief Darcy Hernblad says the city typically relies on territorial fire fighters, but 'we need to take some ownership ourselves.'

City's fire department has invested in rooftop sprinklers, training for firefighters as dry May continues

Yellowknife Fire Chief Darcy Hernblad says his department is taking more precautions than usual for wildfire season: 'We've always asked ENR to come in and help with urban wildland fires, but we need to take some ownership ourselves.' (CBC)
Yellowknife firefighters have invested in new equipment, designed to assist in case a wildland fire encroaches on the city and threatens homes.
Designed to be placed on a roof, these sprinkler systems will soak the area around a home, protecting it from sparks from an approaching wildfire. (Shannon Scott/CBC)

Darcy Hernblad, chief of the Yellowknife fire department, says his crews have also had two weeks of training on how to better protect homes from wildfires.

"Based after the year we had last year, we need to do a little bit more to make sure we're on top of our game," says Hernblad. "We've always asked [the Department of Environment and Natural Resources] to come in and help with urban wildland fires, but we need to take some ownership ourselves."

The new sprinkler kits are mounted on red metal triangles, and are designed to sit on a roof. The sprinklers are designed to soak the area around a home if a wildfire moves towards it, preventing any sparks from starting a fire.

The sprinklers are compatible with similar equipment used by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (ENR).

34 fires so far

Unseasonably dry weather has led to a busy month of May for wildfires across the territory. Thirty-four fires have been reported in the N.W.T. so far this season, compared to about five fires in May of last year.

A mandatory fire ban was issued yesterday by the City of Yellowknife, and territorial government officials warned that Highway 3, the sole road connection from the south to communities in the North Slave region, including Yellowknife, may close with little warning due to smoke. The highway remains open as of Tuesday morning.

Hernbland also says the department will begin to work on FireSmarting the city, beginning with an area around Parker Park.​

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