7 Disciplines of FireSmart
1. Public Education
Raising awareness that Alberta is in a fire-prone environment and educating communities and residents about prevention and mitigation. Education covers all aspects of FireSmart—from learning which landscaping plants and building materials are less flammable to what residents can do to create a wildfire-resilient property and community.
Utilizing local knowledge and experts in their respective fields, plans are developed by communities for wildfire preparedness and wildfire mitigation and response’s inclusion in local emergency plans. These plans aid in directing FireSmart prevention efforts at the community level as well as guiding communities on how to prepare for wildfires.
3. Vegetation management
Fire behaviour is influenced by three main elements: fuel (vegetation), weather and topography. Weather and topography cannot be modified, so vegetation management is key to reducing fire behaviour. Vegetation management occurs in three main forms: removal, reduction, and species conversion to a less flammable vegetation species. Vegetation management accounts for approximately 80 per cent of all FireSmart projects.
Post-fire studies, experiments and models have shown that homes ignite due to the condition of the home itself and everything around it. Legislation, bylaws, plans, policies and development standards all play a significant role in building and maintaining FireSmart communities. Consideration of wildfire at the development planning stage is a key step in protecting communities from wildfire.
Whether in the design stage, building, or performing renovations, or at the broader neighbourhood and community scales–there are many ways development standards can help protect homes, residents, and communities from wildfires.
6. Interagency cooperation
Interagency cooperation is perhaps the broadest and far-reaching of all the FireSmart disciplines. The successful implementation of any FireSmart initiative will include the input and cooperation from each other agency or group that might be affected by the outcome. Through the development of FireSmart committees, commitment to mutual aid agreements and the hosting of informational meetings, relationships can be built and nurtured over time; regular communication is essential.
Cross-training aims to bring emergency response organizations together for the purpose of identifying potential weaknesses and gaps in response efforts, prior to an actual emergency. Training can also be completed to familiarize organizations with the equipment, procedures and strategies of other agencies which may potentially be involved in a wildfire emergency. The overall all goal is to reduce any required on-the-job learning that might occur during an emergency.