British Columbia is experiencing an early and active start to the wildfire season, so it’s more important than ever for communities and individuals to do their part to help protect homes, resources and infrastructure from wildfire threats, says a release from B.C. Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.
FireSmart Canada has declared May 7, 2016 as the second annual Wildfire Community Preparedness Day, which is an ideal opportunity for communities throughout B.C. to learn more about preventing fires and reducing wildfire risks. Individual homeowners are also encouraged to take a really close look at their properties to determine how they could make them more fire-resistant by using simple FireSmart principles.
In September 2015, the B.C. government and the Union of B.C. Municipalities launched the $500,000 FireSmart Community Grant Program to encourage more communities to participate in the FireSmart program.
The recently updated FireSmart Homeowner’s Manual was developed specifically to help homeowners reduce the risk of personal property damage from wildfire. The manual contains lots of helpful fire prevention tips and is available online at:http://bcwildfire.ca/Prevention/firesmart.htm
FireSmart activities may include:
- trimming and thinning out trees, shrubs and other vegetation
- removing flammable material from the property, such as dead wood or tree needles
- ensuring that woodpiles and other easily ignited items are stored away from buildings
- using fire-resistant construction and landscaping materials
Anyone heading out to B.C.’s beautiful backcountry must remain vigilant when doing any open burning, since conditions are very dry in some areas of the province. Information about current campfire and open burning prohibitions is available on the BC Wildfire Service website at: http://bcwildfire.ca/hprScripts/WildfireNews/Bans.asp
People must also obey any local government fire bylaws and restrictions that may be in place in their area and should contact local authorities before igniting any fire.
Wildfire prevention is everyone’s responsibility and failing to use fire properly comes at a greater cost than ever. On April 1, 2016, the B.C. government significantly increased ticket fines for 19 different violations under the Wildfire Act and seven violations under the Wildfire Regulation. For example, the fine for failing to comply with a fire restriction under the Wildfire Act has more than tripled — from $345 to $1,150.
If open burning is allowed in your area, always have enough people, water and tools on hand to prevent the fire escaping. Never burn in windy conditions and never leave a fire unattended for any length of time.
Anyone who spots a wildfire, unattended campfire or open burning violation should immediately call *5555 on a cellphone or 1 800 663-5555 toll-free. Up-to-date information about current wildfire activity is available online at: http://www.bcwildfire.ca
You can also follow the latest wildfire news:
- On Twitter at: http://twitter.com/BCGovFireInfo
- On Facebook at: http://facebook.com/BCForestFireInfo
Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations –
“Wildfire prevention is a shared responsibility of the provincial government, local governments, industry stakeholders and individual British Columbians. We will continue to raise public awareness of potential wildfire threats and promote the FireSmart program to help protect our communities, resources and infrastructure.”
Al Richmond, president of the Union of British Columbia Municipalities –
“The risk of wildfire is real for many B.C. communities. Wildfire Community Preparedness Day provides an opportunity for community leaders and residents to build their knowledge about how to prevent wildfires and reduce risks. I welcome this day and appreciate the resources made available through the FireSmart program.”
- The B.C. government introduced the Strategic Wildfire Prevention Initiative in 2004 to help local governments and First Nations reduce the risk of interface wildfires, where urban developments border on forests and grasslands. As of May 6, 2016, about $78 million has been allocated to this program to help reduce wildfire risks around their communities. Strategic Wildfire Prevention Initiative funding is administered by the Union of British Columbia Municipalities.
- As part of Budget 2016, the B.C. government invested $85 million to create the Forest Enhancement Society of B.C. This new society will focus on wildfire risk reduction to complement the ministry’s existing forest stewardship programs and world-class wildfire suppression capabilities.
- As of March 31, 2016, 290 Community Wildfire Protection Plans have been completed by local governments and First Nations and another 55 are in progress. These plans identify areas at risk and prescribe fuel management projects to address those risks. As of March 31, 2016, completed fuel treatments and risk reduction efforts from all projects covered more than 79,947 hectares of land in and around communities that face a significant wildfire risk.
FireSmart Canada: https://www.firesmartcanada.ca/
FireSmart Homeowner’s Manual: http://bit.ly/1RQXFzd
Fire prevention tips: http://bcwildfire.ca/Prevention/
Poster explaining different categories of open fires: bit.ly/1GlhE9l
Open burning guides and current burning prohibitions:http://bcwildfire.ca/hprScripts/WildfireNews/Bans.asp
Factsheet on wildfire prevention:https://news.gov.bc.ca/factsheets/factsheet-forest-fire-prevention-is-everyones-responsibility
Union of B.C. Municipalities: http://www.ubcm.ca/