Applications open for grants toward fire prevention initiatives

Activities scheduled to take place during Wildfire Community Preparedness Day on May 4

Applications are open for community grants from FireSmart Canada to go toward fire prevention initiatives scheduled to take place on Wildfire Community Preparedness Day, which happens later this spring.

“It’s a national event that’s going on and it applies for B.C. residents as well,” said Erin Catherall, communications specialist with BC Wildfire Service.

“The applications opened in January and run until March 1; it’s a chance for communities to receive a $500 reward to help hold a FireSmart activity or event on Wildfire Community Preparedness Day, which is scheduled for May 4 this year.”

Wildfire Community Preparedness Day was started to encourage neighbours to work together to lessen the chance of damage from wildfires in their communities.

Given the degree of the fires in the last couple years, and the growing impact of climate change, it’s important for homeowners and communities to do their part to become more fire smart, according to BC Wildfire Service.

“If a group of neighbours wanted to get together and do a FireSmart initiative in their neighbourhood they could have a representative act on their behalf and put in an application explaining what it is they’re wanting to do,” said Catherall.

“There’s a whole host of different activities, but the grants can be used for anything that really promotes FireSmart and risk mitigation in and around communities.”

A few of the activities BC Wildfire Service suggests to help people prepare Wildfire Community Preparedness Day award applications include hosting FireSmart information sessions with local fire departments or planning a FireSmart work party, inviting local residents to roll up their sleeves and remove wood debris and fallen trees around their community.

Holding a FireSmart wood chipping event where local residents are invited to remove or thin vegetation on properties is another suggestion.

Asking local fire departments to help conduct FireSmart structure and site hazard assessments or working together with neighbours to remove debris (such as leaves and tree needles) from the eaves of every house in the neighbourhood are also on the list.

“We’re trying, especially in light of the last couple seasons and how catastrophic the wildfire events have been, to encourage communities and homeowners to get involved with the FireSmart initiatives in and around their neighbourhoods and surrounding communities,” Catherall added.

“It increases knowledge about the importance of FireSmart and the idea to share responsibility when it comes to prevention and communication; there’s been a lot of science-based evidence that supports FireSmart and its effectiveness.”

According to BC Wildfire Service, the FireSmart program is backed by a large amount of field, laboratory and wildfire modelling research and its methods help reduce the risk of losses under even the most extreme fire conditions.

The FireSmart Homeowner’s Manual was developed to help people reduce the risk of personal property damage due to wildfires. The manual and more information about the FireSmart program are available online at: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/wildfire-status/prevention/for-your-home-community.

Anyone interested in applying for the grants for Wildfire Community Preparedness Day can visit https://www.firesmartcanada.ca/wildfire-community-preparedness-day-2019/

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