West Kelowna Fire Rescue has launched a pilot project that is dedicating $25,000 to encourage private property owners to protect their properties and neighbourhoods from wildfire.
Citizen involvement at the neighbourhood level is the cornerstone of the FireSmart Canada Community Recognition Program. FireSmart homes and neighbourhoods allow firefighters to concentrate on fighting wildfires, protecting lives and homes. FireSmart communities that have demonstrably reduced their vulnerabilities to wildfires are exponentially more likely to survive disasters with far less need for emergency response and recovery.
Huntsfield Green, a strata development in West Kelowna, was recognized today for achieving FireSmart Canada Community status, a challenge that West Kelowna Fire Rescue would like other communities in West Kelowna to take on.
Local governments have very limited statutory authority to enforce fuel mitigation and fire prevention activities on private land. Consequently, public education and awareness of “FireSmart” principles has been the primary focus of wildfire prevention on private land. In 2019, we propose to change that.
As a pilot project, West Kelowna Fire Rescue will dedicate $25,000 for innovative, out-of-the-box solutions to incite and encourage private property owners to do work to improve the survivability of their homes in a wildfire. While subject to change, funding has been tentatively earmarked as follows:
- $2,000 towards offsetting tipping fees at the Westside Transfer Station for private property owners who have completed mitigation works as per the FireSmart Guidelines.
- $5,000 towards providing collection bins or chipping services at the neighbourhood level for residents to deposit materials from mitigation activities on private properties. Staff may also consider supporting neighbourhoods during ‘Cleanup Weekends’ (BBQ’s etc).
- $5,000 towards completing mitigation works on a ‘FireSmart Demonstration Property’ that will serve as an example to promote mitigation activities.
- $10,000 towards providing $500 grants to private property owners who undertake larger scale activities to improve their properties as per FireSmart guidelines. This could include actions such as: (but not limited to)
- Replacing combustible roof and siding materials
- Removing cedar hedges and replacement with low density, fire-resistant plants
- Increasing tree spacing, removing limbs and creating defensible space around structures
- Installing dedicated wildfire suppression systems (sprinklers on buildings)
- $3,000 towards advertising and providing promotional materials related to the initiatives above.
WKFR staff trained in FireSmart Assessments will verify and approve all projects.
Members of the public who are interested in taking advantage of this pilot program can contact West Kelowna Fire Rescue for more information at 778-797-3200 or email email@example.com.