LFR of the month

Current recipient

woman assisting a child holding a firehose

Jessica Chalmers

The Elk Valley and South Country

1. Where do you live and what geographical area do you cover?  I live in Baynes Lake in the East Kootenays. I am responsible for the Regional District of East Kootenay electoral areas A & B, otherwise known as The Elk Valley and South Country.

2. How long have you been an LFR? I have been an LFR since the spring of 2023

3. What made you decide that you wanted to be an LFR and support homeowners and neighbourhoods on how to become FireSmart?The decision to become an LFR was an easy one, as my work and life experience up to this point consisted of managing an exterior finishing company, running my own landscaping company, and being a passionate member of my local fire department, with a special interest in wildland firefighting. In depth knowledge of these areas has allowed me to better assist homeowners and neighbourhoods on their FireSmart journeys.

4. What would you say are your 2 biggest challenges as an LFR ? One of my initial challenges was gaining and building trust within my Electoral Areas. Through extensive outreach and consistent community involvement, I was able to create relationships that better helped me move the program forward.

Helping homeowners keep focus on the Home Ignition Zones can be challenging. It’s important to look at what can be done on their own properties, and some people spend time and energy looking at things that need to be done in neighbouring yards and other community spaces.

5. What are some of your successes with the FireSmart program? As I mentioned above, building relationships can be challenging but I believe I have had great success in making those connections and gaining the trust of residents within my area. The Neighbourhood Recognition Program has been my focus and I currently have over 20 engaged communities, with more joining every day.

6. What has been your favourite project/event you have done with your local FireSmart Program? My favourite project has been our first annual Ember Stomp, a Wildfire Community Preparedness Day event, that was hosted in Jaffray. I was able to bring together multiple agencies, including FireSmart BC - Landscaping Expert, Carla Hoffman, BC Wildfire, BC Ministry of Forests – Wildfire Risk Reduction, Vahana Goats and BC Cattlemen’s Association - Targeted Grazing Projects, and over a dozen more, to provide wildfire preparedness information as well as conservation and mitigation outreach to the public.

7. What advice would you give to other LFR’s? No event is too small to attend. Some of the most engaged residents I have found have been at a pancake breakfast or quilting club meeting. Creating opportunities to have meaningful one-on-one conversations has been key.

8. What is your favourite of aspect of the FireSmart BC website ?I appreciate the easy access to great resources and educational videos that I can share with my residents.

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