#251 Mark & Steve – Forest Fires, Part 2
Steve: Of course with our sawmill in northern Alberta, every year we are a little bit, you know, apprehensive. We have a bomber station; not ours, but the provincial, you know, forestry has a bomber station right near by and they're constantly on the lookout. I've driven up there in the summer and you see, off in the distance, these bits of smoke because there's lightening strikes and other things. Mark: Right.
Steve: So there's always a little bit of forest fire action and then the bombers. These are these water bombers; they'll take off and try to put out the fire. Mark: Right.
Steve: And so far so good. We haven't lost significant amounts of timber. Mark: No.
Steve: But a lot of the timber that we are logging is all…like in one area it will be all 120 years old and in another area it's all 80 years old. Mark: Right.
Steve: Because that's when the last huge forest fire moved through there. And nobody lives up there.
Steve: So… I mean now there are farmers and that, but 100 years ago there was no one there.
Mark: I mean, yeah, there are always fires. I remember when we went camping up in Salmon Arm…
Steve: Oh, yeah.
Mark: …like, I don't know, 20 years ago now, whenever it was. Steve: More than 20 ah? Twenty-five years ago.
Mark: And we were camping at a camp site…
Mark: …and it was just scorching hot.
Steve: Forty degrees.
Mark: Forty degrees or whatever it was.
Mark: I don't remember what kind of trees they were… Steve: Yeah.
Mark: …but they were wilting in the heat.
Mark: They wilted and they leaned over so much.
Steve: They were some kind of aspen.
Mark: Some kind of aspen…
Mark: …or leafy tree and it leaned over so much that it came into contact with the power lines.
Mark: And then, eventually, it started to sizzle…
Steve: It started a fire.
Mark: …and started a fire. I mean it was a small town, wherever we were, and the local volunteer fire department showed up. It was pretty funny. There was one guy in his ranching attire, you know, in his chaps came right off the ranch and other guys from town came out. The volunteer fire department came out to put out the fire.
I mean the fact is that we are always living at the mercy of nature and fire is just a perfectly natural phenomenon, so is wind, so is earthquake, so is heavy rain storms.
Mark: Hey, I read in the news the other day that near you a house almost got burned. A guy was burning a stump in his backyard and started a fire and the fire department had to come put it out.
Steve: Well mom wasn't home or she would have stopped it. Mark: I mean he would have wiped out your whole area.
Steve: Well they're a little further up. Mark: Oh, okay.
Steve: It wouldn't have come down to where we are. But, yeah, the road was blocked off and there were fire trucks there.
Mark: And a house in Dundarave burnt down a week ago.
Steve: But that had nothing to do with the forest.
Mark: No, it didn't have anything to do with forest, but we're on the fire theme. Steve: Right, yeah, yeah. No, there are fewer fires than before because people build differently.
Steve: I mean all of the codes governing, you know, electrical installations and then, of course, the use of gypsum board and all of this and so now… You know I golfed with a fireman and he said most of the time they're called out because someone had a heart attack or something. Mark: Right.
Steve: So that they are also this sort of emergency response thing.
Mark: Although apparently this house in Dundarave, which is three doors down from a friend of ours…
Mark: …so the fire department, apparently, was not there very quickly. And you know if that's at 23rd, the fire station is at 16th, that's seven blocks that the fire truck had to go. They should be there in 30 seconds.
Mark: And, apparently, it was more like 10 minutes.
Steve: And the reason was?
Mark: They haven't heard why. Steve: Right.
Mark: And maybe the timing is not exact, but their…
Steve: It took them longer than it should.
Mark: …feeling was that it took a lot longer than it should have and that led to things being as bad as they were. But they were quite worried because being three doors down and it's been so hot. So I guess they were up on the roof hosing down the shingles.
Steve: Oh yeah.
Mark: Because the wood shingles are dry and a lot of the roofs here are made out of wood shingles.
Steve: Well, that's true. Mark: So the embers, if they land on your roof, I mean I think that's the one worry. Steve: Yeah.
Well, that's true. I mean I know from a friend who's always fighting the municipal government to get them to reduce taxes because they have so many useless bureaucrats there… Mark: Right.
Steve: You know they really do. I mean earning obscene salaries, you know, five different levels of administration and supervision and one thing and another. And, of course, one of the untouchable areas is the fire department.
Steve: Even though they have like, probably, three times as many fire chiefs and other senior people as they need…
Steve: …that people say I don't want to pay any more taxes. Okay, we're going to cut the fire department. No, no, no, you can't touch the fire department, so they're a bit of a sacred cow. Mark: Yeah.
Steve: But, yeah, they should respond or people get mad at them.
Mark: Well, yeah. I mean, as you say…
Steve: They've got nothing to do. Mark: They've got nothing to do. I mean unless maybe they were called away to an accident…
Mark: …and then didn't come back. Steve: But then there's more than one fire station, they should be able to get there. Mark: Yeah, that's right, that's right. Although, I mean from the next fire station it's going to be a lot longer to get there, you know. Steve: Well, that's true. Mark: Yeah, it could take 10 minutes. They're not all that close together. Steve: I mean still, though, we're very lucky to have the possibility within these communities to have these kinds of, you know, community response, you know, teams or, you know. Mark: For sure.
Steve: For sure. I mean otherwise we're back to your group in the interior with a volunteer fire department… Mark: Right.
Steve: …pulling people away from their jobs and they show up with buckets of water or whatever they've got. Mark: Yeah.
Steve: No, I'm sure they had a fire truck. Mark: They had a fire truck, but… I mean, in a way, it does make sense, too.
Mark: Because what happens here is they sit around all day doing nothing being paid.
Steve: I know.
Mark: The volunteer fire department…
Mark: Buy a nice truck and have enough people so that you have enough…there's always people that can respond. Steve: Well, you know that's a subject that we can talk about another time, but we're so used to the government doing stuff for us. Mark: Right.
Steve: We just pay taxes…
Steve: …so we can lead an unhealthy life.
Steve: You know we don't have to worry about educating ourselves. Mark: Yeah.
Steve: Everything will be done for us. Well maybe we should get back to people doing more…
Steve: …as you say, volunteer fire department. Maybe on our health program if you are a smoker or a drinker or whatever, you lead an unhealthy lifestyle, you pay more for your health insurance.
Mark: That's right, yeah. I mean that should be the case.
Steve: It should be, really.
Mark: It should be the case. Anyway, I think we've kind of covered the forest fire topic and it's probably a good place to wrap it up for today. Steve: We got in a few other kicks too.
Mark: For sure.
Anyway, thanks to Maryann for suggesting that topic and we're always open for… Steve: One thing, by the way, I should say is we are going to try to bring in some more voices.
Steve: There was a comment that the two of us sound more or less the same. People had asked for Jill. She's busy looking after her child, but we think Kate can be an excellent person, so we're going to talk to her about some of her experiences. Mark: And maybe other people, if we find other suitable people.
Steve: And so we do respond to your suggestions.
Mark: Okay. Anyway, keep them coming. Talk to you soon.
Steve: Thank you.