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Wildfire training brings 300 firefighters to Penticton this weekend

Firefighters will be training at Campbell Mountain, Wiltse, West Bench and Naramata
Over 300 firefighters from 40 different jurisdictions will be in Penticton this weekend to train on responding to wildfires. (File photo)

Over 300 firefighters from around the province will be in Penticton this weekend for wildfire training.

Penticton Fire Department will host the B.C. firefighters, including BC Wildfire firefighters for the Wildland Urban Interface Wildfire Training starting Friday, April 22 through to 24.

The in-person version of the event had been cancelled for the past two years because of the pandemic.

Firefighters will be trained to improve their knowledge and response to wildfires. The symposium will include scheduled training exercises involving supervised burning and visible deployment of fire service personnel, fire apparatus and aircraft in the Campbell Mountain, Wiltse area, West Bench neighbourhoods and Naramata.

Residents and visitors to the affected areas are advised that the exercises and training performed is being carried out by knowledgeable and experienced professionals, with safety and property protection being the top priority.

“The Penticton Fire Department wishes to thank all Penticton residents in advance for their patience and understanding while this essential training exercise is carried out,” said Penticton Fire Chief, Larry Watkinson. “The knowledge gained through this event benefits not only our local firefighters and the residents they protect, but also the fire crews all around B.C. who respond to events involving wildland-urban interface conditions.”

Over the course of the three-day event, residents may see the 300-plus firefighters working a simulated wildfire event, unfamiliar fire trucks on roadways and firefighters in neighbourhoods and the community. There will be smoke and fire on Campbell Mountain and Naramata during the simulations.

Watkinson developed the curriculum for the symposium and has helped organize and host the firefighters in 2018 and 2019.

Additionally, the parking lot at Campbell Mountain and next to Rotary Park will be closed for command and control staging locations. Local roads will not be closed.

There have been three major wildfire seasons in the past five years, in 2017, 2018 and 2021. Most of Penticton was on evacuation alert in 2020 for the Christie Mountain fire. The B.C. Farmers’ Almanac is predicting a hot, dry summer in B.C.

Residents with questions or concerns regarding this event are invited to contact Fire Chief Larry Watkinson at or call 250-490-2309.

READ MORE: Wooded homes in Penticton wanted for wildfire training

Monique Tamminga

About the Author: Monique Tamminga

Monique brings 20 years of award-winning journalism experience to the role of editor at the Penticton Western News. Of those years, 17 were spent working as a senior reporter and acting editor with the Langley Advance Times.
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