Our interest in FireSmart began at a Canada Day event in 2017 when our local fire department had an information tent up about the program. I spoke with our Fire Chief who was collecting names of interested citizens and we were invited to a FireSmart community meeting a few months later. Having that connection with the Fire department and chief right from the beginning really helped build our footing. Since then we have excellent communication with our FireSmart rep, firefighter Bruce Nelson and with our Fernie Fire Department who are a huge resource for us.
Allan Westhaver, a wildfire expert, was also living in Fernie at the time, and was a big supporter of us getting started and developed our community plan with us.
Our organization process began with door knocking where over 50 households were contacted and signed up for email. Support from people was very good. Our FireSmart Board met to organize the day and sent email invitations out to everyone with details of the day.
We wanted to create an ‘event’ and so borrowed a bright tent, hung our sign in an obvious spot, organized a Barbeque, encouraged families to participate, had a ‘prize draw’ at lunch to give away the FireSmart swag that we had been sent, invited our Fire Chief to speak at lunch for 15 minutes on FireSmart and Emergency Preparedness. It was a hot day so we ensured that there was lots of water, juice and snacks available for everyone. During the day we took some pictures and had a fire truck and firefighter drop by.
We used the $500 mainly for the Barbeque as the chipper truck and crew was paid by a grant that the city received. The chipper is critical to holding this event as we have no other way to efficiently dispose of wood debris. The $500 would not have been close to covering that cost and without the city grant, we may not have been able to proceed.
It was a great day with lots of positive feedback.