From left, Jonathan Finlay, a wildfire technician with B.C. Wildfire Service, and Penticton fire chief Larry Watkinson spoke about the upcoming Wildland Urban Interface Wildfire Training Symposium this weekend on Wednesday. (Robin Grant/Penticton Western News)

Expect to see wildfire smoke, helicopters and fire trucks in the Penticton area this weekend

Wildland Urban Interface Wildfire Training Symposium taking place from May 3 to 5

Penticton will be under siege this weekend — but it’s a good thing.

Firefighters from around the province will be participating in the second annual Wildland Urban Interface Wildfire Training Symposium from May 3 to 5.

READ MORE: Penticton to host wildfire training symposium

Penticton fire chief Larry Watkinson said residents can expect to see roughly 200 firefighters from 26 different municipalities take over Rotary Park as well as unfamiliar fire trucks driving around downtown.

Smoke and helicopters will also be common sights.

“You’ll see a lot of action with fire trucks and large command centres. We have a 53-foot sprinkler protection trailer coming in. We will be basically taking over that parking lot,” said Watkinson.

All the action is to help municipal firefighting services improve their knowledge of and response to wildfires.

Campbell Mountain will also be a location of the event, focusing primarily in the Sendero Canyon area.

READ MORE: Penticton Firefighters first to go through BC wildfire fighting course

“We will be doing active live-fire scenarios in behind Campbell Mountain. We are prepared for it and B.C. wildfire service has been up there working diligently to make sure it’s safe, and we will be able to actively fight fire in the area,” said Watkinson.

Residents should understand the training is done in a controlled environment with professionals ensuring the whole process remains safe, he added.

READ MORE: Salmon Arm inventor creates rooftop sprinklers to protect from wildfires

Jonathan Finlay, a wildfire technician with B.C. Wildfire Service, said four classes will take place throughout the weekend, looking at structure protection, leadership skills in a wildland environment, tactics and boots-on-the-ground training.

“Municipal fire services are always going to be first on scene. They are the closest resource deployed, so it’s important for those tactics to be effective in those early stages of an incident. That’s when we have our highest chance of success so boots on the ground will be about good communication,” Finlay explained.

READ MORE: Penticton fire offers tips to stay safe during wildfire season

With the increased severity of wildfire season, B.C. Wildfire Service is often busy so municipal fire departments must be better prepared to fight wildfires, Watkinson said

“That’s why we’re partnering with B.C. Wildfire Service, so that they can teach us the skills necessary to be better to be boots on the ground wildfire fighters.”

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Robin Grand
Reporter, Penticton Western News
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