FireSmart™ Canada is a program of the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre. CIFFC became the owner of the FireSmart Canada brand in 2021.

The history of FireSmart Canada goes back to 1990 when a committee was established to address common concerns about wildfire in the wildland urban interface, where wildlands and human development come together.

The initiative originated with the Alberta Forest Service (now Alberta Agriculture and Forestry). Original committee members were Alberta Forest Service, Alberta Public Safety Services, Canada Parks Service, Canadian Forest Service, Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties, Alberta Urban Municipalities Association, Alberta Planners Association and the Alberta Fire Chiefs Association.

These agencies created Partners in Protection Association (PiP), which was incorporated in Alberta on Feb. 8, 1993. Partners in Protection grew the FireSmart™ brand into FireSmart Canada.

The mandate of Partners in Protection was to facilitate interagency co-operation in the promotion of awareness and education aimed at reducing risk of loss of life and property from fire in the wildland urban interface.

PiP committed to raising awareness, providing information, and developing forums to address common problems that encourage neighbourhood-based initiatives to reduce the risk of property loss and enhance safety in the wildland urban interface.

Partners in Protection developed and distributed information about wildland fire prevention and methods to reduce the effects of destructive wildland fire to homes, neighbourhoods and industries in the interface.

In 1999, PiP created the FireSmart brand and published a comprehensive technical manual titled Protecting your Community from Wildfire. This manual was printed in English and French and was distributed across Canada and internationally.

Fire agencies across Canada, Australia and New Zealand have adopted guidelines established in the manual to address wildland urban interface issues in their jurisdictions.

PiP also worked with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers and Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development to develop manuals such as FireSmart Guidebook for the Oil & Gas Industry, Best Practices for Wildfire Prevention for the Oil & Gas Industry and a Farm and Acreage publication.

In 2008 PiP was invited by the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers (CCFM) to develop a proposal for a national FireSmart program to address the goals necessary to protect lives and properties identified in the Canadian Wildland Fire Strategy developed by senior officials of CCFM. A key element in this proposal was the development of a FireSmart Neighbourhood Recognition program based on the model developed by Firewise USA, a program of the National Fire Protection Association. A partnership with the National Fire Protection Association provides FireSmart Canada with opportunities for international co-operation and sharing of resource materials.

The move to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre (CIFFC) in 2021 aims to achieve many of the longstanding goals of Partners in Protection Association – most importantly, helping more Canadians become FireSmart.

The goals for FireSmart Canada are twofold: to improve communication with stakeholders; and to organize programs and assets into a logical, manageable structure based on three pillars – homeowners, neighbourhoods and communities.

Wildland-urban interface (WUI)

Historically we have described the WUI as the line, area, or zone where structures and other human development meet or intermingle with undeveloped wildland or vegetative fuels.

In a wildland urban interface fire; all vegetation (“natural” or “wildland”  and cultivated), buildings (structures), attachments (fences, decks, outbuilding), infrastructure  (bridges, power lines, communications towers, pump stations, etc,) and other items (vehicles, boats, firewood, stored materials, hazardous materials, etc,) are potential fuel for the fire.

For simplicity, these fuels are typically divided into two main categories.

Wildland Fuels

All vegetation (natural and cultivated)

Built Fuels

Man-made structures (buildings and infrastructure)

Combined, these wildland and built fuels result in a WUI fuel complex.

These fuels all have different burning characteristic; and when combined into a WUI fuel complex, they create uniquely complex conditions that affect the ignition and spread of fire that differs from both an isolated structure fire and an isolated wildland fire.

Understanding the complexities of these combined fuels, helps us begin to understand the unique and often overwhelming challenges that a WUI fire presents to suppression resources.

A more accurate definition of the wildland urban interface describes both structures and vegetation as “fuel”, includes the topographic and weather conditions that affect the combustibility of these fuels and recognizes the unique interactions within this “combined fuel complex” that allows for the ignition and spread of fire through it.

Therefore, for the purposes of neighbourhood wildfire planning and WUI regulation development, this definition more accurately describes the WUI:

Any developed area where the combination of human development and vegetation have the potential to result in negative impacts from wildfire on the neighbourhood.

Understanding the Home Ignition Zone

Post-fire studies, experiments and models have shown that homes ignite due to the condition of the home itself and everything that surrounds it out to 100 metres from the foundation.

FireSmart principles are designed to mitigate a home’s vulnerability to wildfire.

Working within the home ignition zone begins with the house and then working outwards, undertaking steps to reduce fuel for embers, a surface fire and large flames.