With wildfires becoming the new normal, and the hottest days on record that BC has ever seen, the message of fire safety rings louder than ever. This important topic is one that myself and Council feel is of the utmost importance and strongly advise each resident to take seriously. We have seen too often the significant losses and devastation that can occur when fires get out of control.
To share the message of fire safety, members of the Sparwood Fire Department will soon be canvassing the community and promoting the British Columbia FireSmart program in neighborhoods that are vulnerable to wildfires. The goal of this program is to reduce the potential impacts of wildfires on homes and neighborhood’s by managing wildfire risks through seven disciplines: education, emergency planning, vegetation management, legislation, development, interagency cooperation, and cross training.
The Fire Smart Program will see members going door to door in some of the interface/intermix risk areas of Sparwood, empowering and educating residents about fire safety. Neighborhood champions will be needed to take a leadership role on their streets or blocks and be in contact with Sparwood’s FireSmart Representatives with wildfire concerns in their area. FireSmart home assessments will be done to evaluate the risks during a wildfire using a point scoring system. Recommendations will then be given to the homeowners on how they can improve their homes to become more FireSmart. It is important to note, that while the Fire Department provides education, advice, and recommendations, they will not be providing labour services or supplies to implement the recommendations, as this will be the responsibility of the homeowner.
Those who volunteer to be neighborhood champions will learn, teach, and practice how to live safely and resiliently with wildfire. The choices we make about our homes and properties can greatly reduce vulnerability to wildfire. Things that will be considered are the yard, windows and doors, siding, roof, gutters, eaves, vents, fences, decks, and porches. The materials used to construct the features of your property and the vegetation/landscaping around your building and structures play important aspects for your safety. Neighborhood champions will also set up and lead their neighborhood in an annual or bi-annual cleanup of hazardous debris, with the end goal of banding together to become a recognized FireSmart neighborhood.
In conjunction with the launch of the FireSmart Program, myself and Council would like to take a moment to commend the Sparwood Fire Department for their service and dedication to the community. While we have an outstanding team, it is important we do all that we can to limit their need to respond. Residents are required to obey all fire restrictions, which until further notice include the current ban of campfires, category 2 fires, and category 3 fires. Residents are also reminded to use extreme caution with cigarettes, sparks, or other possible ignition sources. When fires are permitted once again it is important to obtain a permit for your fire pit and utilize safety precautions when burning.
I am confident we can all pull together and commit to ensuring we do our best to reduce the wildfire risk in our community. More information on the Fire Smart Program can be found at www.firesmartcanada.ca. To contact a FireSmart representative in Sparwood please call the Fire Department at 250.425.0558 or email Fire Chief Dean Spry at firstname.lastname@example.org or Deputy Fire Chief Kris Hill at email@example.com.
David Wilks is Mayor of Sparwood