Lac La Biche County has applied for $50,000 in FireSmart funding to help residents in the County.
Each activity funded through the FRIAA FireSmart Program aims to create safer communities. Activities can range from modifying forest vegetation on the wildland/urban interface to educating residents about steps they should take on their own property to reduce the wildfire risk.
FRIAA FireSmart Program projects can include activities related to any of the seven disciplines that make up FireSmart:
- Planning (e.g. FireSmart community plan: wildfire preparedness guides and wildfire mitigation strategies; resource-sharing and mutual-aid fire control agreements);
- Vegetation/Fuel management (e.g. fuel breaks, thinning and pruning, vegetation removal/reduction, and conversion to more fire-resistant species);
- Public education (e.g. increased awareness regarding wildfire threat and application of FireSmart principles);
- Inter-agency cooperation and cross-training;
- Legislation and planning (e.g. review provincial and municipal legislation, land-use bylaws and plans);
- Development (e.g. new subdivision development re: roadway access; water supply and utility placement); and
- Emergency planning (e.g. develop or updating procedures and response plans, and upgrading existing developments to FireSmart standards).
John Kokotilo is the Regional Fire Chief in Lac La Biche County.
“For the next stage in the application process. The County must submit a full proposal which is due November 15,” Regional Fire Chief Kokotilo told Lac La Biche County Council in Tuesday’s meeting. “The application is for a variety of FireSmart activities, which County is proposing for 2022 that includes conducting home assessments, providing chipping services, wood chipping services, conducting public awareness campaigns, signage advertising, door to door visits, holding open houses, and attending public events to promote FireSmart activities as well as vegetation management in some of our areas within the county.”
Regional Fire Chief Kokotilo says the program will run from Spring to Fall, and usually starts April 1 and goes to October 31. The FireSmart Programming is being proposed in the Fire Services budget at a cost of $58,500. If the County’s grant is approved, $50,000 in funding will offset the municipal revenues supporting these costs.
“Lac La Biche County previously received grants from FRIAA for its FireSmart program totaling $24,640, in 2018, $50,000. in 2019, $50,000 in 2020, and 50,000 in 2021,” Regional Fire Chief Kokotilo said.
Previous money received was put to good use as Lac La Biche County was awarded the National FireSmart Community Protection Achievement Award in 2019.
During the 2021 season Lac La Biche County led the way for all Municipalities in Alberta for FireSmart assessments and practices,” Regional Fire Chief Kokotilo said. “We’ve also been shortlisted to possibly get a $100,000 FireSmart incentive program grant. And what this entails is that with our residents and homeowners that we may be able to get them $1,000 apiece to do upgrades for siding, roofing, and other practices. The strategic alignment with this program is social wellness FireSmart initiatives are aimed at protecting the public from the threat of incoming wildfires. Public safety is an essential precondition to social wellness.”
On November 9, Lac La Biche County Council chose to endorse the application.
“I actually talked to plenty of people when I was out and about campaigning,” Ward 4 Councillor Jason Stedman said. “They had a lot of good positive things to say about this program. Being our location is at high risk for fires, I think it’s imperative that we be prepared as much as we possibly can. I’m fully supportive of this program, especially with grant funding and very little top-up on our behalf.”
If the funding is approved and the program occurs in 2022, the Regional Fire Chief will be tasked with managing and supervising the program.