COQUITLAM, B.C., Dec. 14, 2021 – On the heels of B.C.’s worst wildfire season on record, Coquitlam has developed a comprehensive plan to protect public and private properties from fires in forests, parks and green spaces.
Building on Coquitlam’s existing wildfire prevention work, the new Community Wildfire Resiliency Plan – an update of its 2007 Community Wildfire Protection Plan – outlines dozens of actions aimed at reducing wildfire risk and improving the City’s response and recovery if fires do occur. Some activities in the plan are already in progress and others will roll out over the next two to five years.
Plan Based on FireSmart Principles
Coquitlam began its wildfire plan update after receiving a $50,000 grant in February through the provincial Community Resilience Investment Program, in the FireSmart Community Funding and Supports category. Administered through the Union of British Columbia Municipalities, the grant funds community wildfire planning based on the seven FireSmart principles – education, legislation and planning, development considerations, interagency cooperation, emergency planning and vegetation.
To create Coquitlam’s plan, a consultant worked with a multi-departmental committee to evaluate existing and draft City plans, review how FireSmart principles are being applied, identify strengths and gaps in the City’s wildfire preparations and response capacity, and produce a plan that includes specific, prioritized recommendations with timeframes, measures for success and estimated costs.
The 43 recommendations focus on:
- Continuing to educate and engage the community in FireSmart activities, including direct outreach with homes in the wildland interface;
- Embedding FireSmart principles into policies, neighbourhood plans and park plans;
- Communicating clearly and consistently with stakeholders to ensure a coordinated response to reducing wildfire risk, including sharing resources with adjacent municipalities;
- Preparing for wildfires through inter-agency planning and training with BC Wildfire Service, Metro Vancouver, BC Parks and others; and
- Managing forest fuels in higher-risk locations, including parks and green spaces.
Plan Builds On Other Wildfire Prevention Activities
Coquitlam Fire/Rescue (CFR) works year-round on wildland interface fire prevention and response, including planning, education and training. Efforts this year have also included the Northeast Sector FireSmart Program, which has been delivering education and free property risk assessments to homes in wildland-urban interface zones across the region this fall.
The program is funded through a joint $496,900 provincial FireSmart Economic Recovery Fund grant received this summer by Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Anmore and Belcarra to create jobs and improve wildfire resiliency through residential property assessments, public outreach and infrastructure improvements.
Information for Property Owners
Human activity, such as campfires and discarded cigarette butts, continues to be the leading cause of wildfires. People who live near Coquitlam’s wooded areas are urged to prepare their homes:
- Keep combustible materials at least 1.5 metres from the home, and piles of firewood at least 10 metres away;
- Keep your home’s roof and gutters free of leaves and pine needles, and prune all branches that hang over the roof;
- Choose fire-safe vegetation and space it to prevent a continuous line of vegetation leading to the home;
- Remove all dead/dry vegetation and trim tree limbs two to three meters from the ground;
- Choose non-combustible roofing, building and landscape materials;
- Know where your home’s gas, electric and water shut-offs are; and
- Have a wildfire escape plan in place.
More tips can be found at www.coquitlam.ca/interfacefire.