Times Chronicle

By Don Urquhart, Times Chronicle

The cool rainy spring may be deceiving but make no mistake, fire season is just around the corner and all the folks connected to FireSmart want every homeowner to think about how they can protect their home and their community.

For those unfamiliar, FireSmart is a program developed out of years of experience dealing with interface wildfires. Through guidelines and assessments, homeowners are aided in making strategic choices around their yards and with their structures aimed at increasing the wildfire resiliency of their property. 

“This event is really all about education,” Alex Giovannelli AMFD Deputy Fire Chief said. “Neighbours helping neighbours and trying to understand fire behaviour and what you can do to actually mitigate fire coming into our neighbourhood. The more that you can do personally on your own property it helps the entire neighbourhood so that’s what this whole forum is all about,” he said.

Last year’s devastating wildfires in B.C. are still fresh in most people’s minds and with the recognition that climate change will make this sort of event more commonplace all levels of government are eager to promote the FireSmart message. 

Speaking at the Anarchist event, Kerry Riess, FireSmart Coordinator for the RDOS highlighted the provincial government spent upwards of $550 million on wildfire suppression last fire season.

“So taking a small chunk of that and putting it towards educating people and communities can go a long way,” he said. 

This includes funding for public education events such as the one at Anarchist, as well as home-owner rebates with the Province offering limited rebates for up to $500 for mitigation work completed on a property.

“We saw that last year with Anarchist in the resilience of this community and it’s just amazing how everyone pitched in. We’re thankful nothing burned down last year, it’s quite a testament to the people that live here and work on the fire safe community committees and fire department.”

AMFD FireSmart

Future Anarchist Mountain Fire Department firefighter?

Indeed the AMFD is celebrating 10 years since it first formed its FireSmart committee and it and the community have come to be seen as leaders in wildfire resiliency and preparedness.  

Deputy Fire Chief, Alex Giovannelli commented on how rapidly the program is changing. “Fire smart is changing in the 10 years that we’ve been doing this, it’s been evolving and I’ve seen more changes within the last year than I have in the previous eight or nine,” he said. 

Part of this is being driven by the wildfires that California has been experiencing over the last 5-6 years, “they’re going to be coming up here as part of climate change,” he adds.

The increased emphasis on FireSmarting communities has seen the addition this year of the FireSmart Home Partners which is a voluntary property assessment program that helps residents identify specific actions and upgrades they can take on their property to reduce wildfire risks. This existed in the FireSmart program already but has been more tailored to individual homeowners for their property. 

Once a property owner meets all mitigation criteria and attends an online course, they will receive a “mitigation certificate” confirming that they met the FireSmart best practices on their property.

 The broader focus on neighbourhoods and communities remains under the general FireSmart umbrella.

Peter Humphrey

About AMCS

Building community involvement in the preservation and enjoyment of Anarchist Mountain's natural and cultural environment
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