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Coquitlam Wildfire Emergency Exercise Supported by SAFER Network Companies

Multiple first responder and fire response agencies participating in Coquitlam Fire Rescue wildland urban exercise fire on May 13, 2021

On May 31, 2021, Coquitlam Fire Rescue hosted a multi-agency multi-jurisdictional wildland urban interface (WUI) exercise that simulated a wildfire coming down in the interface between the city and the forest, in order to test and see how well multiple agencies would respond together as a group.

Member companies of the SAFER Network collaborated on the design and delivery of this exercise. They included GetSet Solutions, Red Dragon Consulting, and Innomergence Solutions. All three companies are founding members of the SAFER Network and are based in British Columbia.

Get Set Solutions developed the master sequence of events list, scripted all the exercise injects, and provided a simulation cell to delivery the exercise. Red Dragon Consulting and Innomergence Solutions provided simulation cell support in the field.

This wildland urban interface exercise took quite some time to organize and was held at Eagle Mountain Park in the City of Coquitlam.

SAFER Network member companies looking at Coquitlam evacuation map for exercise on May 13, 2021

The local RCMP and Coquitlam Search and Rescue conducted a simulated evacuation of approximately 300 homes in the area. They tested a software app, developed by the City of Coquitlam, to track real time what it would take to evacuate residents from the area. This app shows live evacuation progress in the City’s emergency operations centre (EOC) and the information this exercise provided is vital to the EOC evacuation planning functions. Additionally, the evacuation teams went door to door and delivered fire prevention and FireSmart information to each of those homes.

Coquitlam SAR and RCMP doing door to door evacuation notifications during Coquitlam Fire Rescue emergency exercise on May 13, 2021

A post exercise debrief, or “hot wash”, was facilitated in a large field in the park, and valuable insights and learnings were gathered. Each agency had an opportunity to identify what worked well for them, and what they could do better. Coquitlam Fire Rescue leadership then took those learnings into an internal continuous improvement process.

Coquitlam Fire Rescue briefing participating agencies for emergency wildfire exercise on May 13, 2021

All of the participants recognized that it was a pretty rare opportunity when they can all come together in a realistic wildfire simulation scenario and that there is great value in this approach. Not only is it great for preparing for wildfire response, but it also helps the different agencies better understand how they can interact with each other. It showed how the different organizations’ command structures can work together seamlessly, which is critical in emergency response for identifying and working towards common goals. Other participating agencies brought personnel and equipment to the exercise.

The exercise included a field response with several fire department, Regional District of Metro Vancouver, and BC Wildfire Service crews. The Port Coquitlam Fire Department who brought some unique equipment to this exercise. Port Moody Fire Department also brought their sprinkler protection unit to this exercise. A live helicopter water bucket drop on fires simulated with smoke bombs was delivered by Talon Helicopters of Richmond, BC using their Airbus AS365N2 Dauphin. This helicopter is also used extensively in local day and night ground search and rescue operations.

Talon Helicopters Dauphin helicopter doing water bucket drop on Coquitlam Fire Rescue emergency exercise on May 13, 2021

Click here to see a short YouTube video showing some of the activities in this exercise.

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