Edmonton - December 4, 2012 - Albertans living in 16 forested communities will see increased protection delivered through nearly $500,000 in funding under the FireSmart Community Grant Program.
“FireSmart is a proactive approach to protect Albertans, their homes and their communities from the threat of wildfire,” said Environment and Sustainable Resource Development Minister Diana McQueen. “I’m pleased to see that many municipalities are taking advantage of available funding for projects to reduce wildfire threats to their communities.”
Zama City, a northern Alberta community threatened by a wildfire earlier this summer benefited from FireSmart projects completed since 2007. The wildfire, ignited by lighting, burned out of control for nearly two weeks and consumed approximately 134,000 hectares of forest before being contained nearly two weeks later. At its height, the wildfire also triggered an evacuation of approximately 300 people living in the area.
Although the wildfire did not reach Zama City itself, provincial government firefighters and local officials say community protection was enhanced by FireSmart projects completed since 2007.
“Having primary and secondary fire containment lines in place gave residents and firefighters a greater degree of confidence when the blaze moved toward the community,” said Zama City Fire Chief Richard Hackett. “The fire lines completed in 2009 provided anchor points that allowed firefighters to move quickly to mobilize heavy equipment.”
Alberta’s 2012 wildfire season saw 1,555 fires burn over 377,000 hectares - more than five times the size of Calgary and approximately 400 more wildfires than were recorded in 2011.
The FireSmart program aims to reduce the risk of wildfire losses by promoting activities such as planning and development controls, tree thinning, public education, training and emergency management. The program provides funding to municipalities, municipal districts and counties, Métis Settlements and registered non-profit societies within Alberta’s Forest Protection Area for projects that reduce the risk of wildfire to their communities.
A Homeowners FireSmart Manual is available at srd.alberta.ca/Wildfire/FireSmart, along with other tips and techniques to FireSmart your community. To report a wildfire, call 310-FIRE (3473).
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