Up until the middle of March, Tri-City homeowners near forests borders were given the chance to have their properties assessed to see if they are prepared for potential wildfires.
But now, the FireSmart initiative is being extended for those still wishing to participate and possibly receive grant funding to upgrade their homes.
Today (May 11), the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) approved the program's six-month extension at the request of fire departments in Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Anmore and Belcarra.
This means Dec. 31, 2022, is the last day for residents to complete any upgrades to their homes and report it to the UBCM's community resiliency investment committee.
Prior to the end of the year, there are three other deadlines for interested homeowners:
- Sept. 1 = Deadline to finish a free FireSmart home assessment
- Sept. 30 = Deadline to complete mitigation work in order to apply for grant funding
- Oct. 31 = Deadline for evaluation of said mitigation work in order to receive grant funding
According to previous statements, roughly 5,000 properties in the Tri-Cities' northeast sector are subject to significant damage if a big blaze should spark in the area.
Each of these homes are said to have been met by a local FireSmart BC representative with information about wildfire preparedness, thanks in part to a combined $496,000 grant the four municipalities share from the UBCM's economic recovery fund.
However, only five residents have since confirmed that they're completing mitigation work out of 150 assessments conducted since 2021.
And while more than 30 are still scheduled to be done, officials are hoping more can join the program.
"Property owners play an important role in reducing the risk to their homes and neighbourhoods by taking steps such as removing potential fuel sources and choosing fire-resistant building materials," explains Coquitlam fire chief Jim Ogloff.
"The program goal is to help homeowners to adopt practices that reduce the risk of wildfire damage to their homes and property."
For more information on FireSmart assessments, you're encouraged to visit the City of Coquitlam's website.
A map is also available on Coquitlam's Northeast Sector page if residents are unsure if their home is located in a classified wildland-urban interface area.