PAGC and SPSA bring awareness into action with new wildfire educational campaign

Herald file photo. A digital road sign on Highway 155 beside the Beauval Airport warning drivers of the forest fire that lies ahead.

Members of the Prince Albert Grand Council Task Force on Wildfires and the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency (SPSA) joined forces to create an educational campaign to raise awareness and offer tips on how to deal with human caused wildfires.

The first piece of the campaign involves radio spots, which give information on such areas as the different stages of wildfires, how to look after homes by keeping brush cleared away from homes and cabins, and making sure to put out any campfires by adding dirt and water to ensure they are put out completely and not left to grow larger. The radio spots will also be delivered in Cree and Dene, the languages of northern people.

Grand Chief Brian Hardlotte said the north experienced wildfires right into October in 2017, and that we the premise behind forming the Prince Albert Grand Council Task Force on Wildfires

“Evacuations are hard on communities, particularly the elders, and there is loss of animals and forest,“ Hardlotte said in an interview with the Northern Advocate.

“The purpose of that task force is to work with the province … the whole idea is to try and extinguish the fires to prevent the evacuations,” he added.

The campaign involves the release of educational materials and the use of social media for a wider audience.

In another piece of the plan, firefighters will be going into schools to talk to children about fire safety, how dangerous it can be to play with matches, for example.

“Human-caused fires devastate our communities, landscapes, and wildlife,” Hardlotte said in a news release dated April 26. “We’re ensuring our prevention messages deeply resonate within our communities by integrating our languages and the voices of our local leaders into our educational efforts. This campaign is about transforming awareness into action.”

With Emergency Preparedness Week May 5 to 11, the message is about preparing an emergency plan, what is needed, what to have ready in case of evacuation, and a route to travel.

It’s important to know the risks of wildfires. It all focuses on safety and prevention. The campaign is scheduled to run throughout the months of May and June.

 “Together, we are joining forces to encourage every person to take extra care to prevent wildfires and grass fires this spring,” Marlo Pritchard, SPSA president and Fire Commissioner, is quoted as saying in the news release. “Our combined efforts go a long way in helping to reduce the occurrence of wildfires and grass fires … our partnership with PAGC is a testament to our shared commitment to safeguarding the people, property and resources of Saskatchewan.” The task force meets annually. The issue of human caused fires was highlighted at the meeting earlier this year.