County offers free FireSmart assessment to residents

·2 min read

With fire season well underway, the county encourages residents and businesses to take advantage of its free FireSmart assessment program.

The program is aimed at ensuring properties are safe in the event of a wildfire.

“The goal of this program is to empower our residents to take steps to help protect their property,” said Ken Atamanchuk, county fire marshall.

“Completing a FireSmart assessment is a simple and effective way for residents to gain information about how they can make their property safer from the risk of wildfire.”

Assessments take about two hours and will run from spring to fall at no cost to county residents.

Once an assessment is completed, the homeowner or business will be given a personalized report with the findings and tips for wildfire prevention.

“I think the biggest benefit is going to be the person will have a better understanding of how their property is sitting in the event if a wildfire were to occur.”

Atamanchuk is hopeful that residents take advantage of the program, “I'd love to get as many (residents) as possible because that's the whole point is saying you know what, it's out there, let's use it.”

Many of the tips are simple, said Atamanchuk, like cleaning out gutters full of dry leaves that an ember from a wildfire could cause to spread to a house and moving a woodpile away from a residence.

“The process only has 14 steps we go through, and it starts from the house itself, and then it works to the outside of the house, so it gives you an overall check of your whole property in general.”

“It gives you goals to shoot for as residents on how to make your property safer.”

The program's most significant change from previous years, according to Atmanchuk, is that it has been simplified so that assessors can come out and get the assessments done faster and give residents quick feedback that is easily achievable.

For those who cannot meet all the requirements, Atamanchuk said there would be no punishment, as they are volunteering to help inform residents how to keep their properties safe.

With a bit of effort, the results will make your home much safer, he said.

Residents interested in the program and wanting more information can register on the county website at www.countygp.ab.ca/firesmart.

The county is also inviting residents to a virtual engagement on June 29 where a professional forester has travelled through public access lands to assess the Highway 40 West FireSmart project.

Recommendations on future vegetation management and other findings will be presented to stakeholders and the public.

Residents interested in the Highway 40 FireSmart projected can email firesmart@countygp.ab.ca to register.

Jesse Boily, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News

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