Everyone who has seen aerial images of the aftermath of devastating fires has it etched into their memory— the lone house or small part of a subdivision left standing after an enormous blaze such as the 2016 Fort McMurray, while the rest of the neighbourhood burned to ashes.
According to the Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD), research into past wildfires has yielded information as to why some structures ignite while others do not. Principles covered by a program called FireSmart, which is being applied nationwide, can be used to reduce the threat of wildfires to homes and other properties on the edge of forested areas.
The CSRD recently received $100,000 in grant funding from the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) which is to be spent on a regionwide campaign to mitigate wildfire risk and educate the public. The year-long initiative is designed to help residents of the CSRD’s rural electoral areas reduce their wildfire risk by taking stock of their properties. Online resources provided by the CSRD recommend taking measures such as reducing ground fuel near structures, clearing trees at the crest of slopes and pruning all tree branches within three metres of the ground. Establishing a fire resistant zone free of all fuels within ten metres of homes is recommended.
FireSmart information will be provided at public events including fire hall open houses in all of the CSRD’s electoral areas. In addition free property assessments conducted by a trained Fire Smart representative are available. While the FireSmart representative will not actually perform any of the fire resilience work on the property, the CSRD states they can provide good recommendations for property improvements.
Assessments are subject to the availability of a representative and the overall budget for assessments that is available.