The Cortes Island Fire Department is creating a new Wildfire Brigade to serve the community.

It’s function will be to support the department during major wildfire events with Wildland firefighting, structural protection, and support tasks. In a deployment, Wildland members will work in teams supervised by existing department officers or team leaders.

“We had a fire on the island in late June, the largest wildfire event we’ve had in many years. And a lot of conversation came out of that around preparedness in general and how we notify the community of the status of a wildfire event and preparing in general for more serious wildfire seasons to come with changing climate and all of that.”, said Eli McKenty, Interim Fire Chief of the Cortes Island Fire Department.

“And going over this, I realized that it’s much easier to train people for wildfire than as full department members. It’s a much smaller time commitment. Equipping them is not nearly as expensive. And there are a lot of people who would be a huge asset in a wildfire who don’t have the time to be a full member of the department.”

Cortes residents, including summer residents, who are able to attend the provincially mandated basic training sessions and meet minimum medical and fitness requirements are eligible to apply.

“Currently we have 26 members on the department. And I’d like to see double that number available for a major wildfire.”, stated McKenty.

Canada is reporting its worst wildfire season on record in 2023, and the fire season isn’t over yet.

Learn more about wildfire preparedness, safety and wildfires in B.C. here.

Email for more information on being a part of the Cortes Wildfire Brigade.

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