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FireSmart

FireSmart is a national program adopted in communities across Canada aimed at reducing the risk of wildfire to homes and neighbourhoods. The Municipality is implementing a number of FireSmart preventative measures on municipally owned lands to mitigate the risk of future wildfires. The Municipality is also working with the Government of Alberta regarding FireSmart preventative measures on their lands.

Current Projects

Projects are ongoing in the Birchwood Trails, and areas of Thickwood and Timberlea based on identified need by qualified professionals. These measures are part of vegetation management. This includes fuel reduction projects such as the removal of dead standing trees and thinning/pruning the remaining trees. This is not a clear cutting operation.

Debris generated from the removal and thinning of trees and plants is being disposed of in a number of different ways including mulching and small, controlled burns supervised by qualified contractors.

Debris piles are being disposed of using supervised controlled burning that is only done in favourable, safe weather conditions and are closely monitored at all times, following strict guidelines.

Learn more about the FireSmart fuel reduction projects taking place in and around the Birchwood Trails here.

Past Projects

The FireSmart program is not a new initiative in Wood Buffalo. FireSmart preventative measures have taken place throughout the region for the past several decades, including areas near Ermine Crescent, Sicamore Place and Burns Place.

Safety

Throughout the FireSmart fuel reduction projects, the safety and well-being of residents is the Municipality’s top priority.

Residents are asked to stay away from active work zones and operating equipment, as well as obey all warning signs and closure signs throughout the trails.

Residents are asked to keep the safety of themselves and others in mind. Stay clear of the ongoing controlled burn sites and drive with caution when passing these sites on the road. Slowing or stopping your vehicle near the controlled burns increases the risk of traffic accidents.

FireSmart Home Development Guide

The FireSmart Home Development Guide assists homeowners in choosing building materials that will reduce the risk of fire damage to their homes.

FireSmart Homeowner’s Manual

The FireSmart Homeowner's Manual outlines steps homeowners can take to protect their home and yard from the risk of wildfire.

FireSmart Homeowner’s Assessment

The FireSmart Homeowner's Assessment assists homeowners in assessing wildfire hazards present in and around their home and yard.

RMWB Guide to FireSmart Landscaping

Homeowners who live adjacent to treed areas throughout the region are encouraged to learn and adopt FireSmart principles for their home and garden.

To help teach residents about FireSmart principles for landscaping, the Municipality has developed the RMWB Guide to FireSmart Landscaping as an introduction to FireSmart landscaping for homeowners living near treed areas.

Residents will learn about FireSmart priority zones, fire resistant plants,lawn care and basic principles to mitigate the risk of wildfire for homes and gardens. This resource also takes into account the region’s northern climate in its suggestions for fire resistant plants to add to landscapes.

Other landscaping considerations

When are planning landscaping, there are several things to keep in mind in addition to the FireSmart principles.

Hardiness

The RMWB is located in a northern climate which can be harsh for some kinds of plants. It’s important to make sure selected plants for residential yards are hardy enough to survive. Plants in Hardiness Zone 2 should survive in this climate. Use caution with plants in Hardiness Zone 3 as they may not thrive.

Black Knot Disease

Black knot is a tree and shrub disease that affects members of the Prunus family like chokecherry and pin cherry, and is a common problem for residents of Wood Buffalo. Residents may see it in their yard or neighbourhood.

The disease can be easily identified. It develops on twigs and branches, and looks like lumps of thick, black, tar-like swelling that may vary in size from 1/2 inch to more than 12 inches in length.

Black knot has been reported on 24 species of Prunus in North America, but is most commonly found on wild and cultivated plum and cherry trees.

Residents are encouraged not to plant any new trees or shrubs in the Prunus species. You can learn more about how to eliminate Black Knot disease and how to care for existing Prunus species trees and shrubs here.

Elm Pruning Ban

Dutch elm disease (DED) is a deadly disease that can affect any elm tree. Since its introduction from Europe in 1930, it has destroyed millions of American elm trees across North America. DED is prevalent in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Montana. At present, Alberta has the largest DED-free American elm stands in the world. A total of 219,334 elms, worth $634 million dollars, grow in Alberta’s urban areas.

To reduce the risk of DED, pruning of elm trees is prohibited throughout Alberta each year from April 1 until Sept. 30. Fresh cuts from pruning may attract the beetles that can spread the disease, increasing the chance of an infection. Once they have infected an area, elm bark beetles will feed on healthy elms during the growing season, and then breed over winter in dead and dying elm trees. Learn more about DED and the Elm Pruning Ban here.

FireSmart Guide for the Oil and Gas Industry

The FireSmart Guide for the Oil and Gas Industry introduces wildfire management through the lens of the Oil and Gas Industry, by providing information on enhancing personnel safety during a wildfire event, enhancing emergency response capability, mitigating economic impact during shutdowns, mitigating infrastructure loss or damage and reducing liability for industry-caused ignitions.

More Information

For more information and resources on FireSmart Canada, visit FireSmartCanada.ca

For questions, call the PULSE Line.

Wildfire Rebuild  [Learn more]