This past fire season was a particularly active one, and while the Kimberley Cranbrook area was spared any significant threat, residents of Kootenay Boundary suffered loss of property through interface fire.
If you look at interface fires in B.C. in the past years, there are always what Kimberley Assistant Fire Chief Rick Prasad calls the “miracle home” — the one still standing while others on the same block burned.
Studies have been done on why particular homes survived and they all come up with common factors, Prasad says. These factors include clearing of combustibles on the property, safer building materials and more.
“Extensive flame fronts and flying embers that can travel up to two kilometers into the heart of town can create significant and overwhelming conditions for fire suppression crews. Yet, there are solutions than can significantly reduce the risk of wildfire loss and not allow our community to fall victim to wildfire.”
The City of Kimberley has done extensive Firesmart work on public lands and worked with large private landowners such as Teck to reduce ladder fuels and thin trees. But ideally, private homeowners need to take responsibility for doing Firesmart work on their own properties.
To that end, the Kimberley Fire Department is planning a workshop on November 25 at 6:30 p.m. at the Fire Hall.
“The Kimberley Fire Department is looking to work with proactive and concerned individuals that are interested in making their property less susceptible to wildfire ignition through the FireSmart Canada initiative,” Prasad said.
These so-called community champions would help organize Firesmart work in neighbourhoods.
“The Fire Department doesn’t do the work on private lands, but we can evaluate, help you make a plan to make your property safer,” he said. “Neighbours can work together to help each other. Then if you have a neighbourhood work party, the City could come in with the chipper. We want to create a board of these neighbourhood champions, and have a coordinated effort. Our role is to evaluate, give suggestions, then re-evaluate and report to the province. There are funds available to assist.
“The workshop is to let people know how the program works.”
The workshop will serve to identify and prepare prospective Community Champions to lead their neighborhoods towards increased preparedness for wildfire. This will be achieved by providing individuals with the information to recognize wildfire hazards; an understanding of simple FireSmart solutions; opportunities for networking with fire professionals and other concerned residents; and a supportive process for getting started on local projects to reduce the risk of wildfire losses. This workshop will be an informative, enjoyable and productive experience.
Application forms are available online, under “Latest News” on Kimberley.ca or in person from the Fire Department. Please complete the registration form and fax to (250)-427-3631. If you are not able to attend and have a colleague who might be interested, please share the registration information. There is no charge to participate in this workshop.
The Kimberley Fire Department looks forward to seeing you on November 25th at 6:30 pm. If you have questions about the workshop, contact the Fire Department at (250)-427-4114 or email Fire@Kimberley.ca .