Grant focuses SPFR on fire prevention

Sun Peaks Fire Rescue Work Experience Program members collect clippings to chip. Photo supplied

In 2017 and 2018 British Columbia faced its worst wildfire seasons on record, with a total of 1,353 and 2,117 fires respectively burning over 1.2 million hectares each year. 

The smoky skies, damage and homes lost have made wildfire protection front of mind for many, including Sun Peaks’ municipal council and fire department. 

Sun Peaks Mountain Resort Municipality applied for and received the UBCM Community Resilience Investment grant for $124,000. The funds will be used on multiple projects including forest fuel mitigation and Fire Smart education. 

Forest fuel mitigation will be completed with the help of a professional forester and includes removing ladder fuels such as brush and middle aged trees around municipal boundaries on the west end of Sun Peaks Rd. The clean up keeps potential fires closer to the ground where they’re easier to extinguish and don’t require assistance from the air.

Sun Peaks Fire Rescue (SPFR) chief Colin Cannon said the idea is to keep the forest look and feel while removing fuel.

The grant money will also be used to update the community wildfire protection plan and review fuel management. As the municipality moves to take over landscape and building design guidelines and enforcement from Sun Peaks Resort LLP it’s important they consider fire prevention, Cannon said. 

One major focus of the grant, Fire Smart education, is being undertaken by SPFR fire prevention officer captain Dean Schiavon. 

Schiavon will present at local strata’s annual general meetings in an effort to recruit community champions from each complex. The champions will be responsible for communicating with Schiavon and the strata’s council or Fire Smart board to work toward Fire Smart certification. 

To achieve certification they might complete projects like removing bark mulch from landscaping, removing dead brush or branches and tidying landscaping waste. 

Anyone interested in becoming a community champion for their strata or neighbourhood can contact Schiavon at info@sunpeaksfirerescue.com and register for a workshop on July 6. 

He added strata certifications are part of a long term goal of Fire Smart certification for the entire community. 

Free chipping days are also being funded by the grant. The first took place on June 29 and another will occur July 13 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Anyone with tree clippings can register to have them collected and used to create compost for the community.

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