FireSmart Canada, a national program supported by partners such as insurer The Co-operators, has urged homeowners to protect themselves from wildfires by taking precautionary measures that reduce fire risk.
The program organizers and partners launched an awareness campaign on social media and other platforms to coincide with Wildfire Community Preparedness Day on May 02, 2020. This year’s Wildfire Community Preparedness Day marks the fifth anniversary since the national event was introduced.
Typically, FireSmart Canada encourages neighbourhood clean-up events each year to reduce the amount of flammable materials in and around homes, in anticipation of the wildfire season. Individuals, fire departments, organizations, community groups, and municipalities are invited to submit their applications to the Wildfire Community Preparedness Day organizers to receive funding for local projects that help improve their wildfire resilience.
But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all group activities have been cancelled – the program’s organizers have instead encouraged property owners this year to continue doing their part by reducing wildfire risk in their own homes, by clearing dead/combustible vegetation, implementing wildfire-resilient landscaping, and using fire-resistant roofing materials.
For this year’s program, there were 160 successful applicants reported FireSmart Canada. When it is safe to do so, the applicants will each receive $500 to support Wildfire Community Preparedness Day events through a national program.
“We created the annual Wildfire Preparedness Day campaign to rally people around the cause of wildfire safety and to turn ideas into actions that can make a difference,” said FireSmart Canada executive director Ray Ault. “The global public-health emergency prevents us from carrying out plans or group activities on May 02, but it still allows individual homeowners to take precautionary measures to reduce the wildfire risk around their homes and property.”
“Despite transitioning to our current reality that includes physical distancing, wildfire risk continues to be a serious threat across the country,” commented The Co-operators executive vice-president and chief operations officer Lisa Guglietti. “Wildfire seasons are lasting longer and are more intense and Canadians and our communities are increasingly realizing the financial, social and emotional impacts of these events. Together with governments, insurers and all Canadians we need to continue our co-ordinated mitigation efforts to design and maintain resilient communities.”
The wildfire preparedness program by FireSmart Canada is being offered in collaboration with The Co-operators, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR) and the provinces/territories of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and the Northwest Territories.