Consider them your local wildfire mitigation experts.
A Local FireSmart Representative (LFR) has an understanding of current wildland urban interface concepts and wildfire hazard assessments, with tools and skills to recruit and motivate volunteer community leaders. Importantly, LFRs have the mentoring abilities to work with self-organized groups of citizens as they plan and implement wildfire mitigations in their own neighbourhoods.
Why contact your LFR?
The following LFR(s) can be found in :
LFR of the month
Fort St John, B.C.
1. Where do you live and what geographical area do you cover?
I live in Fort St John, and our program covers the Peace River Regional District, which is the largest regional district at 119,200 km2.
2. How long have you been an LFR?
I’ve been an LFR for 2 years.
3. What made you decide that you wanted to be an LFR and support homeowners and neighbourhoods on how to become FireSmart?
Working on wildfires for 14 seasons between Canada and Australia, I have seen firsthand how being proactive and managing fuels can keep communities, homeowners and firefighters safe. The lightbulb moment for me was in 2017 when I was scouting a line to construct a dozer guard behind homes, I came across a property which had lamas, sheep and goats. They had grazed the understory so well that we didn’t need to construct a guard at all. The portion of the fire that had been managed by the animals required almost no firefighting. I love getting the opportunity to empower homeowners to manage their own wildfire risk. FireSmart is literally a smarter way to fight fire!
4. What would you say are your 2 biggest challenges as an LFR
In our Peace Region, the distances can be a challenge. It’s normal to drive 2-4 hours to do an event or assessment. Last year we drove the equivalent of across Canada and back delivering the program. We have improved at scheduling our assessments and events so that we get the most out of our trips. Finding champions and volunteers can also be a challenge. With the season being so short, there are only so many snow-free weekends in a year and people’s time is so valuable to them. We have found that existing societies and associations are a great place to find proactive people that care about the community.
5. What are some of your successes with the FireSmart program
Each year we have completed 100 property assessments. We had our first recognized neighborhood last year in One Island Lake, and we are expecting to add a couple more this year. We have also been assessing and mitigating critical infrastructure in the region with 10 sites mitigated this year.
6. What has been your favourite project/event you have done with your local FireSmart Program?
Our Wildland Urban Interface training event in the North Peace was really rewarding. We had three local fire departments, along with BCWS crews working on a “mock” fire at the Tse'K'wa Heritage Society archaeological site. The event focused on developing interagency relationships while sharing tactics, knowledge and tools for the WUI environment. A fuel free that was constructed as part of the event is now being developed as an access trail for visitors with limited mobility. The heritage society gave the firefighters a tour of the cave at the end of the event. It amazing to learn about the Dunne-za and the cultural heritage of the area. I was really excited that the event turned out to be advantageous to all parties!
7. What advice would you give to other LFR’s?
I would say get outside! Everything good in the program seems to come from being outside, shaking hands and networking. It’s easy for people to scroll past a Facebook post or ignore an email, but when you meet people face to face, you can have a lasting impact and develop relationships that can really move the program ahead. It does take time. My favorite quote is: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” Lao Tzu
8. What is your favourite of aspect of the FireSmart BC website
I would say hands down the LFR of the Month. Lol. I use the resource in the LFR den all the time. It’s nice to have on hand, and you know that it’s always up to date.
9. Craig – you shared with FireSmart BC how you utilized the 2022 FireSmart BC Spring Summer Campaign – what did you do? How did it go?
I really liked FireSmartBC’s campaign this year. I thought the ads were fun and gave people real feedback on how their actions affect their fire risk, so we decided to take the idea and run with it. For our preparedness days, we built four fire danger rating signs and had them attached to posters showing properties with different wildfire hazards and others with mitigated hazards. All the kids that attended our events had a passport that got stamped when they moved the needle on the signs to reflect the hazard in the poster. Once they had their four stamps (spelling FIRE) they received an ice cream from the Ember freezer. It was really fun and engaging for the kids and helped us reach a lot of parents.
Know of a great LFR?
LFRs at a glance
LFRs are people from all walks of life, unified by a central purpose: to mitigate the damages caused by wildfires to our neighbourhoods and communities. They're community leaders, fire professionals, and other individuals that are all helping foster FireSmart at a grassroots level.