Tech & Science

Fueling Resiliency: Why simple and effective fire prevention programs aren’t reaching everyone

In the garden of a 118-year-old house on Banff’s Beaver Street, the town’s fire department held a demonstration that lasted only seconds.

A special hose is attached to the outside faucet of the house and is immediately connected to a small sprinkler that is attached to the roof.

“It was so easy,” said property manager Lynn Frath. “Why did we ever think of this?”

Rooftop sprinklers are part of a new three-year pilot project for the city of Banff. For the next three years, the first 100 homeowners to sign up for a Fire Smart property inspection each year will receive a roof-mounted sprinkler kit at a heavily subsidized rate.

“The WASP is the model we use.

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“This is something that can be deployed quickly to evacuate them.

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Wildfire risk could mean earlier tourist season

In strong winds, wildfire embers can fly for kilometers.

Roof-mounted sprinklers provide an additional layer of protection to keep homes in forest-adjacent communities from burning.

“If you can get water on the roofs of these buildings when the embers come in, the roofs are already wet,” Meyer said.

The concept is simple, effective and inexpensive. It’s also a much-needed adaptation strategy, as Canadian environmental and climate change scientists warn that the wildfire season will continue to be longer and more intense.

The question is why aren’t more communities adopting these measures?

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“We need to do more,” said Tara McGee, a wildfire researcher at the University of Alberta. “Here in Alberta, fire smart The program is now available nationwide, but more needs to be done to ensure FireSmart has sufficient resources and adoption within the community. “

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Created in the 1990s, FireSmart helps property owners and local governments prevent wildfire losses by deploying protection and mitigation technology.

This program provides education on how to better design gardens and gardens in ways that prevent fires from quickly spiraling out of control.

“There is a lot of evidence, both in the United States and here, that FireSmart at the community and property level is highly effective in reducing housing losses and damage to communities,” McGee said.

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Click to play video: 'It's time for us to take responsibility and take ownership': FireSmart Alberta

‘It’s time for us to take responsibility and take ownership’: FireSmart Alberta

The FireSmart program is operated independently in each province and territory by a federal agency run by the Interagency Forest Fire Center of Canada.

In Alberta, this program relies on the participation of volunteer community fire departments.

“Too often, education efforts are the responsibility of paid, on-call volunteer fire departments, so competence is a major barrier for them,” said FireSmart Alberta Director Laura Stewart.

Stewart said the Alberta program has grown from five participating communities in 2015 to more than 40 now, but the program hopes to involve even more communities.

“If we can manage and mitigate fuel around our homes, neighborhoods and communities, we can reduce the incidence of fires and make them more manageable for firefighters.”

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© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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