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The FireSmart®️ Begins at Home app’s primary purpose is to engage homeowners in voluntary wildfire mitigation activities by offering a self-conducted home assessment. This app guides homeowners through a series of questions about their property to help identify specific actions you can take on your property to reduce wildfire risks.
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Neighbourhoods, subdivisions, and small towns in areas of Canada prone to wildfire can earn FireSmart Neighbourhood recognition status by meeting the following criteria:
- Enlisting a wildland/urban interface specialist to complete an assessment and create a plan that identifies locally agreed-upon solutions that the neighbourhood can implement.
- Sponsoring a local FireSmart Board which maintains the FireSmart Neighbourhood Plan and tracks its progress or status.
- Conducting FireSmart Events each year that are dedicated to a local FireSmart project.
- Investing a minimum of $2.00 annually per capita in local FireSmart Neighbourhood efforts. This is surprisingly easy to do since volunteer time is credited at $24.17 per hour (2017 amount).
- Submitting an annual report to FireSmart Canada documenting continuing compliance with the program.
- If your neighbourhood has a head start on FireSmart already and can document your efforts, this can also be recognized.
Becoming FireSmart takes time and coordination with your neighbours and others, but getting started is actually quite straightforward. Following these steps, your neighbourhood will be on its way toward becoming FireSmart.
- Contact FireSmart – A neighbourhood representative (you or another interested member of your neighbourhood) phones FireSmart Canada at 780-718-5355 or completes an on-line request for contact by the Local FireSmart Representative on the FireSmart Canada website – www.firesmartcanada.ca
- Site Visit – Your Local FireSmart Representative, a specialist in wildland/urban interface (WUI) fire, will visit your area and assess wildfire hazards.
- Neighbourhood Representation – At the same time, your Neighbourhood Champion (again, this could be you) recruits others from your neighbourhood to create a FireSmart Board which will include other homeowners and fire professionals and possibly land managers, planners and members of other interest groups.
- Assessment & Evaluation – The Local FireSmart Representative completes the wildfire hazard assessment and evaluation of the neighbourhood's wildfire readiness and schedules a meeting with your local FireSmart Board to present the assessment for review and acceptance by the Board.
- Moving Forward/Creating A Plan – Your local FireSmart Board develops a FireSmart Neighbourhood Plan (a set of solutions to its WUI fire issues based on the Local FireSmart Representative’s report). All members of the FireSmart Board must concur with the final plan which is presented to and approved by the provincial/territorial FireSmart Liaison. The Local FireSmart Representative may work with your neighbourhood to seek project implementation funds if needed.
- Implement Solutions – Solutions from your FireSmart Neighbourhood Plan are implemented following a schedule designed by your FireSmart Board, who will be responsible for maintaining the program into the future.
- Apply for Recognition – FireSmart Neighbourhood recognition status is achieved after your neighbourhood submits its application form along with a completed FireSmart Neighbourhood Plan and FireSmart Event documentation to your Local FireSmart Representative. Use the on-line form available on the FireSmart Canada website – www.firesmartcanada.ca
- Renewing Your Recognition Status – Annual renewal of your recognition is completed by submitting documentation of your neighbourhood's continued participation to the provincial/territorial FireSmart Liaison. Use the on-line form available on the FireSmart Canada website – www.firesmartcanada.ca
While the benefits can vary, there are a number of positive outcomes experienced by neighbourhoods that become members of the FireSmart Neighbourhoods Program. Being “FireSmart”:
- Creates defensible space that prevents fires from advancing and endangering homes and lives.
- Reduces the probability that wind-driven embers falling far ahead of a wildfire will ignite a fire on or around your home.
- Improves property value while reducing the risk of loss.
- Improves neighbourhood relationships with the local fire staff. Firefighters can concentrate their efforts on fighting wildfires rather than devoting often limited resources to protecting homes – which may ultimately be lost if the fire can’t be contained.
- Encourages good neighbours, since the more homes within a neighbourhood that adopt “FireSmart” practices, the greater the impact on reducing the heat and speed of the fire.
- Offers peace of mind, knowing that your home is prepared to survive a wildfire in the event one should occur.
Your ignition zone – including the condition of the house and its immediate surroundings within 30 to 100 metres and other structures such as garages, decks, porches, or fences that come in contact with the house – is what determines your home’s susceptibility to ignition during a wildfire. Here are some simple steps for making your ignition zone a deterrent to wildfire progress:
- Clear the build-up of needles and leaves from the base of the house and any connecting structures which could otherwise ignite the home’s siding.
- Create a three-metre, fire-free (i.e. non-combustible) area on all sides of your home.
- Clear trees and shrubs of dead material and keep them pruned. Space trees and shrubs far enough apart to slow the spread of an approaching wildfire.
- Choose deciduous trees and shrubs, rather than evergreens for planting close to your home. Evergreens burn fiercely. Plants that shed leaves annually burn more slowly.
- Regularly care for your property to keep it free of dead leaves, needles and debris. Plant native wildflowers and fire-resistant plants; keep lawns trimmed and irrigated as they serve as good fire breaks, as do rock gardens and xeriscapes.
- Remember a wide driveway, non-flammable walkways and other pathways can slow or stop the spread of a wildfire.
- Use metal flashing at all connection points of structures, such as wooden fences attached to the house.
- “Limb up” trees around the house by removing lower limbs that are within 2.5 metres of the ground.
- Trim any limbs on trees hanging over the house.
- Store firewood well away from your house, particularly during fire-season.
- Use non-flammable (Class A rated) roofing materials.
- Clear gutters of leaves and debris.
- Ensure that chimneys for all wood burning appliances are screened to prevent the escape of live embers.
- Remove excess vegetation along roads.
For more information on the FireSmart Canada Neighbourhood Recognition Program – click here Information Available includes:
- Becoming a Recognized FireSmart Neighbourhood Brochure
- A User Reference Guide to the FireSmart Canada Neighbourhood Recognition Program
- Neighbourhood Wildfire Hazard Assessment Form (pdf)
- Neighbourhood Assessment Report Template (pdf)
- FireSmart Neighbourhoods Recognition Application Form (pdf)
- FireSmart Neighbourhood Recognition Renewal Form (pdf)
- FireSmart Neighbourhood Recognition – Volunteer & Resource Tracking Sheet (pdf)
- Neighbourhood Protection Achievement Certificate Nomination Form (pdf)
- Glossary of Commonly Used Terms (pdf)
- Workshop Delivery Policy