Marten Beachers keep at the fire hazard reduction effort

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

The hamlet of Marten Beach had its sixth annual (give or take) community FireSmart event on Aug. 22. Chief organizer Dan Tarney tells us participation was actually up.

“Approximately 60 people,” he says. “That’s better than other years.”

The format was different this year. The first few events had volunteers being assigned to different ‘public’ spaces in and around the community, where they gathered and piled dead and down wood for later burning. Otherwise, they piled brush at the front of their properties, which the regional fire service disposed of with its chipper unit.

This year, participants were urged to focus on reducing the fire risk on and around the structures on their own properties, Tarney says. This included cleaning out eaves troughs, cutting grass and clearing brush away from buildings. At the end of the day they got together for a socially-distant barbecue at the home of Marten Beach Cottagers’ Society (MBCS) President Randy Elm and his wife Tamara.

Tarney says Terry Kristoff did the barbecuing, Paul Caffaro provided refreshments, fire chief Alex Pavcek brought the burgers and gave a short talk. Also helping out were Patti Campsall and MJ Kristoff of the Boreal Centre for Bird Conservation and the FireSmart committee of the MBCS, respectively.

Marten Beach’s early and consistent involvement in the FireSmart program has caught the attention of FireSmart Canada. That organization awarded the hamlet with one of Canada’s very first ‘FireSmart Community’ designations five years ago. The number of communities that have gotten on board with the program to reduce wildfire risk has since grown to around 100.

Next steps? Tarney says the committee hopes to get a trailer with a tank and pump set up for use against wildfire in the hamlet. Some, but not all of the equipment is in hand. The fire department is donating some surplus equipment as well.

Participants in the 2020 Marten Beach community FireSmart event pose for a socially-distant photo.

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