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Knowledge is power. The intent of the assessment program is to educate residents on their individual property and community risk and provide tools to reduce it. Even minor fixes and changes in the Zone 1 (10 Meters around your home) can make a significant impact on your risk and score. The BC FireSmart and FireSmart Canada website have great resources to help with what can seem to be an overwhelming task, especially if you have a larger property that is densely populated with trees.
Remember, FireSmart is not a one-time project and should be part of your ongoing regular maintenance planned throughout the year. Doing little things now and then continuing to work through higher risk items means, in the long run, you will be taking great steps to reduce your risk. Take action now and don't wait until you are threatened by wildfire. We all have a responsibility to be FireSmart.
Under the FireSmart Community Funding and Supports program, the CSRD can use grant funding to offer a local rebate program to home owners on private land and First Nations land that complete eligible FireSmart activities on their own properties. To be eligible for funding, a rebate program must address the goals of FireSmart and follow the requirements outlined.
The goal of FireSmart is to encourage home owners to conduct FireSmart practices on their property to reduce damages and minimize the hazards associated with wildfire. These practices should aim to:
Approved applicants (CSRD) are required to use the following requirements:
Rebates are limited to 50 per cent of the total cost of the eligible activities and no more than $500 per property.
Areas of higher wildfire risk, such as neighbourhoods adjacent to the forested edge and/or areas that fall in an overall high to extreme category, should be prioritized for rebates. Current CWPPs or other community plans should be used to decide where to offer a FireSmart rebate program.
To qualify for a rebate, the home owner must:
Have a FireSmart Assessment of their property, conducted by a qualified Local FireSmart Representative, that identifies the property in a moderate, high or extreme category.
Please note: The only acceptable FireSmart assessment forms are the FireSmart Canada Community Recognition Program Wildfire Hazard Assessment form and the FireSmart Home Assessment Score Card, both available from the FireSmart Canada website.
Complete activities that are recommended in the assessment and that are eligible under the FireSmart Community Funding and Supports program, limited to:
The approved applicant (CSRD) must assess the FireSmart activities that are conducted by home owners and review costs (e.g. receipts and/or proof of labour) before approving rebates. This can be achieved by the LFR (preferably the same one who carried out the initial assessment) who must verify the work submitted for rebate was completed (ex. by conducting a follow-up site visit).
The LFR completes the CSRD Rebate Application form and submits it to the CSRD FireSmart Coordinator (by email or in person) who will check it over and confirm it is all correct.
The CSRD FireSmart Coordinator sends or drops off the verified Rebate Applications to the CSRD Shuswap Emergency Program (SEP) staff along with any necessary receipts or proof of work.
SEP tracks FireSmart grant financials and submits documents for payment to issue a cheque to homeowner.
A lot of positive changes can be done simply by cleaning up debris piles and trimming tree branches. The CSRD offers free drop off at regional waste transfer sites for branches, grass, etc.
Bigger tasks like full tree removal and physical changes such as roofing can be much more expensive and should be considered when that is appropriate for you to replace them. There may be a rebate available for up to $500 for expenses incurred to FireSmart your home.
Splitting costs such as bins and tree trimmers with neighbors is a great way to FireSmart your home in a more cost-effective way. Focus on the 10 metre perimeter that surrounds your home first, then start working your way further out. The biggest changes you can make are often right next to your home. Many of these take time and thought, rather than cash!
Congratulations to you on having a FireSmart property. We encourage you to keep up the good work throughout the year!
That being said, FireSmart diligence is a year-round activity and even a low-risk property can become high risk once leaves or needles drop from trees.
Windstorms and tree shedding can create pockets of debris in corners and areas of your home that can become major hazards in a wildfire event. Embers from large fires can travel great distances and start fires miles away, so even the most prepared people can still be affected by a fire.
Have a truck? Or a saw? You could reduce your own risk by helping your neighbours. Offer to take away branches, leaves and yard debris for a neighbour in need of some help.
For many people this is a reality of life. By doing the small things around your home you can still reduce risk.
Specific to combustible roofing or decking, until it is appropriate to replace that, you may want to consider your own fire suppression system that includes hoses, water tanks, pumps and sprinklers. In the event of a wildfire, setting up sprinklers on your roof or having hoses in high-risk area with access to water can make a considerable difference to your risk. So while you may be at a higher risk, there are definitely things you can still do to reduce it. Having water full water totes and pumps, for example, can give you access to water in the event of a power outage.
Understanding your risk can go a long way to coming up with effective solutions to reduce it without major home changes or pricey renovations.
Taking an active role in your community to assess and mitigate wildfire risk makes you a champ!
We all have a responsibility to remove fuels in high risk areas, help neighbours who need assistance, or organize volunteer days. This is the spirit of FireSmart. Every community needs volunteers and organizers to help others understand risk and take proactive steps to reduce it. Talking with neighbors, sharing information and helping others will make a difference. Volunteer to organize events and maybe even take a lead role in obtaining FireSmart recognition for your community. Ask us how we can help by emailing FireSmart.
Nothing. This information is designed to help you. We don't report specific property information to insurance companies or other agencies. The CSRD's FireSmart initiative is an educational and community support program designed to help you reduce your home and community risk. Helping to make people aware of their risk and providing them with information to reduce it will make us all safer in the long run.
The FireSmart BC and FireSmart Canada websites have libraries of information. The BC wildfire service website has information on prevention, fire bans and active fires. Of course, at the CSRD we have compiled a number of important documents for you. We encourage you to follow one or all of our social media channels including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The Shuswap Emergency Program also has a Facebook page. The BC Wildfire service can also be followed online.
Stay informed and stay FireSmart.