Small Communities Take Big Steps to Fight Wildfires

Fifteen small communities and First Nations in the Columbia Basin are upping their abilities to prevent and fight wildfires. These projects are being done with support from Columbia Basin Trust.

“By reducing the risk of wildfire, communities protect their well-being and become more climate resilient,” said Natasha Barisoff, Manager, Delivery of Benefits, Columbia Basin Trust. “Wildfire is one of the greatest risks to Basin communities, especially with the changing climate, so every advancement in equipment, training or planning could help save properties and lives.”

The projects might involve buying equipment like chainsaws or hoses or offering training courses like first aid or wildfire fighting. They may also include doing essential planning, such as community structure protection inventory or water availability and delivery. 

This program is still open and accepting applications until January 16, 2023. To submit an application visit

To view the list of all projects approved to date, click here.

Here are a few of the recipients:

Passmore Fire Department

To be better prepared in the case of wildfire and maximize the safety of its volunteer firefighters, the Passmore Fire Department is purchasing 12 sets of wildland turnout gear, including fire-resistant jackets and pants.

“These garments will allow firefighters the opportunity to respond quickly, in modern safety gear, to wildland situations in our community,” said Gord Ihlen, Regional Assistant Fire Chief with the Regional District of Central Kootenay Fire Service, which oversees the Passmore Fire Department. “The community will benefit from having their first responders stay safe during operations with the best safety equipment possible, and our members will have updated equipment to make sure they make it home safe after every call.”

Wynndel-Lakeview Fire Department

The Wynndel-Lakeview Fire Department is increasing its capacity to respond to wildfires in the area. It will be converting a pickup truck that the fire department already owns into an initial wildfire attack vehicle, purchasing equipment like chainsaws and personal protective equipment, and providing training for crew members.

“The Wynndel-Lakeview Fire Department relies on the support of the other fire departments of the Creston Valley to assist with wildfire response and protection, and the response time could be 20 to 45 minutes,” said Jared Riel, Fire Chief of the Town of Creston, which oversees the Wynndel-Lakeview Fire Department. “This project will allow rapid initial attack on wildfires in the area, in under 10 minutes, thereby protecting the community.”

Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi ’it First Nation

In its latest step to defend itself from wildfire, Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi ’it First Nation is purchasing the gear and equipment its firefighters require, from jackets and helmets to a portable wildfire tank and hoses. This will benefit the First Nation and neighbouring Grasmere, along with other locations the volunteer team could help out at.

“The potential risk for devastation is huge because of our location,” said Nasu?kin Heidi Gravelle. “It usually is the case that something of devastation has to happen where people start saying, ‘Okay, this is a need.’ To have that comfort—knowing we have the updated, proper equipment to protect people—is huge.”

Columbia Basin Trust supports the ideas and efforts of the people in the Columbia Basin. To learn more about the Trust’s programs and initiatives, and how it helps deliver social, economic and environmental benefits to the Basin, visit or call 1.800.505.8998.