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The Town of High Level and Alberta Agriculture and Forestry are planning two exercises in High Level in the coming weeks to test heavy water delivery from distant water supply sources as part of the Town’s Wildland Urban Interface program.
“We’ve been presented with an opportunity to do some tests for the protection of communities during wildfires,” said Director of Protective Services and High Level Fire Chief Rodney Schmidt. “With our experience with the Chuckegg Creek Wildfire in 2019 and the fact the Wildland Urban Interface team is here, it is a good fit.”
The tests are planned to take place in two-day segments. The first one is planned for Oct. 13 and 14, involving a one-kilometre supply line providing water to sprinkler protection units. Part of the testing is to see if the contractor involved is able to provide the amount of water required from a distance when there are no close sources nearby using a four-inch delivery hose. The contractor will also be tested on log yard protection in a rural location.
The second test is planned for Oct. 18 and 19, and will utilize a water supply nearly three kilometres from High Level and provide enough water to create a large water curtain on a fireguard while supplying the set up sprinklers from a sprinkler protection unit crew using high velocity water cannons and a 12-inch delivery hose.
“Their plan is to provide a long distance water supply to the community from a river north of town,” said Schmidt. “And along our fireguard, provide a series of water cannons that spray out into the treeline. The idea is to basically strengthen the fireguard around town.”
“We want to be able to test the effectiveness by measuring how much water we are putting into the trees along their canopies and into the ground,” he added. “This should let us see the feasibility of these kind of heavy water systems in a protective perimeter around town.
“Following that, we are also going to simulate a community with a small water supply to measure if these systems can also provide water directly to our firefighters as needed.
HLFD will be joined with regional departments from across northwest Alberta, including Agriculture and Forestry and the WUI team based out of Clearwater County.
While the testing is underway, local residents may see fire department action in the area of Community Park and along Deer Ridge Drive. There may be hose on the ground along the west and north portions of High Level in the fireguard and potentially close to walking paths.
Local residents are asked to stay clear of that equipment for their safety, but they are welcome to observe and engage with our fire department if they have any questions.