Forests cover over 50 per cent of Alberta’s landscape, and communities across the province are nested within or near the forest. This is called the wildland-urban interface (WUI) – which is described as an area where human development meets or intermingles with the natural environment. Though beautiful, these communities have increased exposure to the danger of wildfire. The FRIAA FireSmart Program supports communities in carrying out activities aimed at reducing the impact of wildfire.
FRIAA FireSmart Program projects can include activities related to any of the seven disciplines that make up FireSmart:
- Planning e.g., FireSmart community plan: wildfire preparedness guides and wildfire mitigation strategies; resource-sharing and mutual-aid fire control agreements);
- Vegetation/Fuel management e.g., fuel breaks, thinning and pruning, vegetation removal/reduction and conversion to more fire-resistant species);
- Public education e.g., increased awareness regarding wildfire threat and application of FireSmart principles);
- Inter-agency cooperation and cross-training;
- Legislation and planning e.g., review provincial and municipal legislation, land-use bylaws and plans);
- Development e.g., new subdivision development re: roadway access; water supply and utilities placement); and
- Emergency planning e.g., develop or update procedures and response plans, and upgrading existing developments to FireSmart standards).
Each activity funded through the FRIAA FireSmart Program aims to create resilient communities. Activities can range from modifying forest vegetation to the wildland-urban interface to educating residents about steps they should take on their own property to reduce the wildfire risk. Under planning, a wildfire preparedness guide (WPG) can increase the situational awareness of emergency responders, refer to the updated manual by Forestry and Parks, Government of Alberta, January 2020.
FRIAA FireSmart endeavours to offer funding opportunities twice a year, typically in the summer and winter, subject to funding availability. Funding opportunities are open to Alberta communities and municipalities, First Nations, Metis Settlements and Locals and other eligible organizations.
For more information on FireSmart principles and FireSmart Alberta, please visit their website.
Link below to a sample of FRIAA funded projects:
FireSmart Wildfire Exposure Assessment – A planning tool for identifying values at risk and prioritizing mitigation effort. (Dr. Jen Beverly, September 2018)
State-of-Practice of Water Delivery Systems (Sprinklers) Used In The Wildland-Urban Interface– (Ray Ault and Chad Gardeski, FPInnovations, April 2019)