Becky Parker shows off a Cariboo Strong fundraising hoodie during the Stampede Association’s Wildfire Relief event in October. (Gaeil Farrar photo)

Wildfire Community Preparedness Day is May 5 this year

Wildfire Community Preparedness Day is an excellent opportunity for people to reduce wildfire risks around their homes and in their communities, Doug Donaldson, Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development Minister, announced today.

The FireSmart Homeowner’s Manual was developed to help people lower those risks and make their properties more fire-resilient. The checklist in the manual makes it easy to get started. The manual is available online: http://www.gov.bc.ca/firesmart

“In light of the extraordinary wildfire season that B.C. experienced in 2017, and our government’s ongoing efforts to support fire prevention strategies, I encourage everyone to do their part by reducing wildfire risks on their own properties and within their communities,” said Donaldson.

FireSmart Canada and its partners provide project funding awards throughout the country to support activities aimed at reducing wildfire risks. The full list of recipients for 2018 is on the FireSmart Canada website: https://www.firesmartcanada.ca/firesmart-communities/congratulations-to-our-successful-wildfire-community-preparedness-day-2018-award-recipients/

This year’s funding recipients in B.C. include: Kaleden, Invermere (Castle Rock Estates community), Chilliwack – Ryder Lake Community, Polar Peak Lodges (Fernie Alpine Resort), Whistler, Fernie (Castle Mountain Community), Lake Cowichan, Fraser Lake Elementary School, Sunshine Valley, Fraser Valley Regional District, Woodbury Village, Powell River, Okanagan Indian Band, Creston, 108 Mile Ranch, Maple Ridge, Nakusp, Barriere, Penticton-Spiller Road, Penticton-Riddle Road, Penticton-Sendero Canyon, Vernon-Predator Ridge, Piers Island, Saturna Island, Whistler-Powderwood, Rushmere, Whistler-Eagle Ridge, Nadleh Whut’en First Nation, Lower Similkameen Indian Band, Burns Lake, Robson, Ashcroft, Vernon.

Homeowners can reduce the risk of wildfire damage on their properties by:

* removing dead trees.

* increasing the spacing between live trees.

* trimming low-hanging tree branches (“ladder fuels”).

* pruning back vegetation and removing wood debris from around the home.

* clearing accumulated leaves and other debris from roofs and gutters.

* keeping woodpiles, propane tanks, outbuildings and other combustibles at least 10 metres away from the home.

Tips for communities:

* FireSmart methods have been demonstrated time and again to reduce the risk of losses within communities, under even the most extreme fire conditions.

* Homeowners can join forces with their neighbours and pool resources to reduce wildfire risks (e.g., pay for a wood chipper service to remove wood debris from in and around their community).

* A community can also take steps to become a FireSmart Community. For more information, visit: https://www.firesmartcanada.ca/resources-library/becoming-a-firesmart-community

British Columbians can take other simple steps to prepare for the wildfire season, such as:

* understanding open burning prohibitions and fire danger ratings, and learning where to find information about them: www.bcwildfire.ca

* adding 1 800 663-5555 or *5555 to a mobile device so they can report wildfires, open burning violations or dangerous fire use.

* visiting PreparedBC’s website: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/emergency-preparedness-response-recovery/preparedbc

* learning how to create a 72-hour “grab and go” kit, prepare household emergency plans, and identify local evacuation routes.

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