As wildfires burn across Canada and in B.C., a new survey shows that British Columbians are worried about the impacts of wildfires in remote, at-risk communities, and say more needs to be done to protect against wildfires.
To help, BCAA and FireSmart BC have teamed up on a new multi-year partnership with the goal to protect more homes in more B.C. communities against the spread of wildfires.
According to the BCAA-FireSmart BC survey, 91% of British Columbians anticipate a bad wildfire season this year, and 90% fear for vulnerable communities’ ability to recover from a fire. British Columbians also say they want to become better informed about wildfire resilience, with 72% indicating they want to learn how to better protect their home, and 88% saying that homeowners need more support to do so.
The new BCAA-FireSmart BC Initiative will add to the work that FireSmart BC is already leading in wildfire preparedness and prevention in the province. BCAA’s investment will increase educational outreach by fire prevention experts in remote, at-risk communities that are under resourced, and expand access to FireSmart BC’s Home Partners Program.
The Home Partners Program provides free professional home assessments with property-specific recommendations. Once changes to the property are made, the home is FireSmart certified, significantly lowering the risk of damage and loss and the chance of the fire spreading further into the community.
Over time, the BCAA-FireSmart BC partnership will expand to offer financial assistance towards the costs of making the changes needed to get FireSmart certified, as well as BCAA home insurance discounts for those taking part in the program.
“As we face the possibility of a bad fire season now and into the future, people are worried. They feel helpless and they want more done to protect British Columbians. As a purpose-led organization we feel compelled to do something. We look forward to joining forces to build on the important work that FireSmart BC is doing and help stop the spread of wildfires,” says Shawn Pettipas, BCAA’s Director of Community Engagement.
FireSmart BC’s Program Director, Rachel Woodhurst, says that getting more communities involved and more homes protected will go a long way to prevent the spread of wildfires and loss. “Our Home Partners Program can make a real difference to people’s risk of losing their home. The new partnership with BCAA will allow us to proactively help more communities by increasing the number of homes certified by fire mitigation specialists.”
A few simple steps to drastically reduce the risk of wildfire damage to your home:
- Focus on your home and area surrounding your home to have the greatest impact.
- Clean and maintain gutters and roofs to prevent dry, flammable debris build-up where sparks and embers may ignite.
- Relocate propane, firewood, and other fuel sources, 10-30 metres away from structures.
- If you have a wooden fence, consider a metal gate where the fence meets your home to create a break to slow fire progression.
- Keep grass cut below 10 centimetres and prune trees to create clearance from the ground to the lowest branches
- Establish a 1.5 metre non-combustible zone around the perimeter of your home and deck – clean under your deck to remove combustible material and consider lining with gravel or other non-flammable material.
- Consider wildfire resistant planting to reduce flammability. Plants with moist, supple leaves and low amounts of sap are more fire resistant than plants with needles which shed fine, dry, dead material. Consider choosing gravel or decorative rock over more flammable bark mulch.