120 Communities Throughout B.C. Reduce their Risk from Wildfire – Kootenay Region

KOOTENAY REGION, B.C. – many Indigenous communities, municipalities, regional districts, woodlots, and community forests have taken action in the last few years to protect their communities from wildfire. Using funding from the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) these project partners first create a Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) or a Community Resiliency Protection Plan (CRPP), which identifies the location of buildings, communications infrastructure, water, power, safe places, and emergency escape routes. Then based on the amount of woody fuel risk, the CWPP or CRPP prioritizes which treatments should be done first.

“The key goals of the Community Wildfire Resiliency Planning process are varied,” said Gord Pratt, RPF, Operations Manager FESBC. “Goals include increasing communities’ capacity and understanding of wildfire risk, fostering greater collaboration across administrative boundaries, and being more responsive to the needs of different types of communities throughout B.C. in terms of their size, capacity, and the threats they face.”

Wildfire risk mitigation planning and treatments can be quite different depending on where in the province a project is located. 

“Wildfire treatments will often space trees far apart and remove low branches in order to keep a fire on the ground and to reduce the amount of wood in the forest, so it doesn’t burn as hot. This makes it easier to fight the fire,” said Steve Kozuki, RPF, Executive Director of FESBC. “But every community is different, and some communities have chosen to encourage the planting of broad-leaved trees in specific areas because they are often more fire-resistant.”

Since inception, FESBC has provided nearly $57 million to fund 124 wildfire risk reduction projects. These projects have not only reduced wildfire risk to 120 communities and rural sub-divisions but have generated an estimated 483 jobs (full time equivalent jobs created) and 43 of these projects have involved, or have been led by, First Nations.

“We wanted to share with residents in the region some of the wildfire mitigation work FESBC has funded in the area,” said Kozuki. “We’ve enclosed descriptions of 40 projects in the Kootenay region to provide a deeper look at the important work that has been done. Although many of the project leaders are currently working on fighting fires and unfortunately not available for interviews at this time, our team at FESBC is ready to share additional project details or answer questions media or citizens may have.”

In addition, when it comes to wildfire mitigation work, the BC government has a wildfire risk reduction funding program called Community Resiliency Investment Program (CRI) which is a partnership with the First Nations Emergency Services Society, the Union of BC Municipalities, the Ministry of Forests, and others, including FESBC. The CRI Program has been spear-heading the FireSmart initiative to educate homeowners about actions they can take to protect themselves, such as cleaning gutters and removing flammable materials outside of homes and businesses. Other funding programs to reduce wildfire risk are administered by the Columbia Basin Trust and the BC Community Forest Association.

For information or an interview regarding these projects, contact:

Steve Kozuki, Executive Director | skozuki@fesbc.ca | 250.819.2888

Ember the FireSmart Fox Name chosen after nationwide online contest by FireSmart BC

FireSmart BC welcomed a new member to the team: Ember the FireSmart Fox!

Ember is a fun, fictional fox mascot whose image will become part of FireSmart messages, activities and events. 

The name Ember was determined through an online contest that encouraged Canadians to submit suggestions. The winning entry was submitted by Arlene Steward of Swansea Point, B.C., who was the first of more than 50 Canadians (across every province and territory), and one of more than 500 contest participants, to suggest Ember.

Ember is an effective messenger because of her unique characteristics that include alertness, adaptability, intelligence and community-mindedness. Ember’s primary job is to educate the public about how to apply FireSmart principles to their homes, properties and neighbourhoods to increase wildfire resiliency.

“In an effort to spread awareness about our brand and programs, we’ve worked with FireSmart Canada to develop a fox mascot to help further engage and connect with the public,” says Kelsey Winter, FireSmart BC program lead and chair of the BC FireSmart Committee. “Ember will serve as a key tool to help us communicate to BC residents the importance of adopting FireSmart principles and best practices.”

FireSmart BC is a partner of FireSmart Canada, which leads the development of resources and programs designed to empower the public and increase community resilience to wildfire across Canada. 

To learn more about Ember, get to know some of our contest participants, and read about their FireSmart experiences, visit www.firesmartfox.ca.

About the BC FireSmart Committee:

The BC FireSmart Committee was initiated by the BC Wildfire Service in May 2017 to provide greater direction for wildfire prevention activities and better integration of the seven FireSmart disciplines throughout the province — based on the FireSmart Canada model. 

Members of the committee include the BC Wildfire Service, the Office of the Fire Commissioner, the Union of B.C. Municipalities, the Fire Chiefs’ Association of B.C., Emergency Management BC, the Forest Enhancement Society of B.C. and the First Nations’ Emergency Services Society of B.C., Indigenous Services Canada, Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Regions and Rural Development – Regional Operations, Parks Canada, and B.C. Parks.

Resources:

FireSmart BC website: https://firesmartbc.ca/

FireSmart BC Twitter: https://twitter.com/BCFireSmart 

FireSmart BC Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/firesmartbc 

FireSmart BC Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/firesmartbc/ 

Media Contact: 

About FireSmart Canada:

FireSmart® Canada is the national program committed to helping Canadians reduce their wildfire risk. Through publications, programs, outreach training, and workshops, FireSmart Canada provides tools for Canadians to become proactive in reducing the risk of wildfire to their homes and neighbourhoods. FireSmart programs and products are supported by organizations such as the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction, the National Fire Protection Association and The Co-operators. For more information visit www.firesmartcanada.ca.

Meet Ember the FireSmart Fox!