Tag Archives: Eli McKenty

#1: Cortes Fire Department Preparing For The Worst Case Scenario

The Cortes Island Fire Department is preparing for what could be the driest summer on record. They have purchased more equipment, a new pumper truck, and are about to start recruiting for a much larger wildfire brigade. After a year and a half as the interim Fire Chief, Eli McKenty may be staying on. This was not the story Cortes Currents expected to cover. An open fire prohibition came into effect at noon on Friday, May 17.

They were flushing water through one of the trucks in the front yard, when I arrived. Chief McKenty took me up to the office where it was quieter. There are two other desks there. BC Emergency Health Services Unit Chief Kim Robertson was away, but Office Manager Tammy Allwork was working on her computer. Their work spaces were meticulously laid out, with everything in its place. A few books and papers were sprawled across McKenty’s desk.

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Folk U: Housing, Emergency Management and Resilience

On January 12th, FolkU Friday was guest-hosted by Sadhu Johnston, who facilitated a discussion about rural resilience and emergency response. Joined in the station by Kate Maddigan, Eli McKenty, and Rex Weyler, this is a fascinating conversation about the confluence of emergency management and ecological protection, natural disasters and climate change, and the ways government, community, neighbourhood, and individual all play significant roles in rural resilience.

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Cortes Island Fire Firefighters Dinner

More than 100 people turned up at Mansons Hall on Friday, December 15, for Cortes Island’s first firefighters dinner. 

“It was wonderful to be able to thank the firefighters and their families and their close friends for all the time and effort that they put in. I think we have an amazing crew and it’s really something as chief, and the board, we need to be mindful of and make sure it’s an amazing place for them to participate. A lot of small fire departments are really struggling with staff these days. We have a really strong crew,” explained Fire Chief Eli McKenty.

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Can chainsaw usage be prohibited during the summer heat?  

The #1 complaint the Cortes Island Fire Department received this summer was that some people continued to use chainsaws despite the drought and the possibility of sparking a wildfire. Interim Fire Chief Eli McKenty said this occurred in multiple locations across Cortes Island. He explained the current regulations are ‘too fuzzy’ to enforce and a possible solution may be adding chainsaw use to the proposed Cortes Island Open Burning Bylaw currently before the Strathcona Regional District Board.

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Preparing for a wildfire: the Cortes Island Fire Department

There have been large wildfires on Cortes Island in the distant past. The largest shown in the 2011 Wildfire protection plan was more than 330 acres in extent, and there were two fires that burned close to 250 acres. Those were in 1932, 1924 and 1923, respectively. There hasn’t been a fire larger than 10 hectares since at least 1950

This could change, as our summers become warmer and dryer. 

Last week Premier Eby declared a state of emergency in face of the worst wildfire season in BC’s history. 

While there are no major fires in our immediate vicinity, the BC Wildfire service says, “We are in a drought condition. Our forest fire fuels are very dry and the ignition potential is extremely high.” So Cortes Currents asked interim Fire Chief Eli McKenty what the situation is like on Cortes Island.

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