Opinion Letters

LETTER: Forest-fire solution

Re "Why aren't we ready for natural disasters?" editorial, Sept. 5

Did anyone read this point of view? Or see the TV news where six federal and provincial politicians in B.C. reported on forest fires?

The single question asked -- Where is the money and effort to prevent forest blazes? -- was ignored.

The response: "We'll compensate the heroic Canadian victims."

Why not minimize the victimization instead?

Canada's gigantic forests devour carbon dioxide. Vast areas burn annually. Tons of carbon (dioxide?) is generated, and the regenerative capacity of green land is reduced, perhaps forever.

Politicians wring hands and award relief money. Where's the strategic plan to rapidly detect and extinguish wild fires? Fighting forest fires with shovels, water hoses, bulldozers, or even gigantic water-bombers is like going to war with a club.

Technical capability to discover and pinpoint fires quickly from aerial devices exists.

The government needs to investigate fire extinguishing methods and develop high-speed mobile fire extinguishers. Imagine a fleet of firefighter drones patrolling continuously during periods of peak fire hazard. Each carries a five-ton container of fire retardant.

If a new fire is detected, our National Fire Control Center could dispatch the nearest patrolling drone directly to the new fire at 300 miles per hour. The response time would be under 10 minutes. Shoot liquid nitrogen or CO2-dry ice pellets onto the blaze; cool and smother the fire. If needed, deploy hundreds of drones from stockpiled ready drones at depots distributed across forested areas. Strategically concentrate/repost patrolling drones, plus back-up drones and retardant reserves to zones of highest fire hazard.

Research, development plus construction and operation of a forest fire prevention program will cost billions. Huge payback will come in annual savings of timber resources and personal property, construction and high-tech jobs, northern Canada development, greenhouse emission reductions, plus justified Canadian pride.

Paul Bennett


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