Sooke FireSmart Program

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British Columbia has experienced unprecedented wildfire seasons in recent years. The changing climate, higher temperatures and drought conditions are all leading causes of aggressive fire behaviour and longer wildfire seasons. Living in a fire-prone ecosystem means we must implement wildfire mitigation strategies to reduce our wildfire risk and protect our community.

Fires on the coast can be vigorous especially in steep/difficult terrain and/or in drought-stricken areas. Lightning storms and water shortages are becoming more common during the summer months and impact both fire behaviour and response operations on the coast.

Preparing for the threat of wildfire is a shared responsibility from homeowners, to businesses to government. We all have the responsibility to reduce our risk and increase our wildfire resiliency.

What is the Risk? The Wildfire Risk Framework used in BC supports initiatives related to wildfire risk reduction. The largest threat to Sooke is wildfire as our community is currently classified in the highest risk category.

This framework measures risk and considers the likelihood of a wildfire event, community consequences, and impacts to high-value resources and assets. By identifying these risk levels, we can prioritize mitigation efforts and increase community resiliency to wildfire.

What is the Structure Ignition Problem? Many homeowners falsely assume there is no wildfire threat to their home and property if not directly on the forest’s edge or in contact with flames. Embers and burning debris can easily travel up to two kilometers ahead of a wildfire and ignite materials on or near your home. This can cause severe damage or total home loss.

Most homes destroyed during a wildfire event are from embers, and surface fires that have not yet reached the crown of the trees. Once homes or adjacent materials begin burning, these residential fuels burn at a higher intensity. The fire will then continue to spread rapidly throughout the community igniting multiple structures simultaneously through direct flame, radiant heat, and casting of shorter ranged embers. No longer influenced by the original wildfire, this urban fire will continue to burn residential fuels and flammable materials.

What is FireSmart? Being FireSmart is about living and co-existing with wildfires because it’s not a matter of if, but when. It’s a tool designed to reduce the likelihood of large uncontrollable, high intensity wildfires within the Wildland Urban Interface.

Recent science and studies have shown that overtime, FireSmart principles can significantly reduce the risk related to losses in the most extreme wildfire conditions. Laboratory testing, physical modeling and recent wildfire events have increased our understanding of structural ignitions and fire behaviour such as radiant heat transfer and the flammability of different building materials.


British Columbia has experienced unprecedented wildfire seasons in recent years. The changing climate, higher temperatures and drought conditions are all leading causes of aggressive fire behaviour and longer wildfire seasons. Living in a fire-prone ecosystem means we must implement wildfire mitigation strategies to reduce our wildfire risk and protect our community.

Fires on the coast can be vigorous especially in steep/difficult terrain and/or in drought-stricken areas. Lightning storms and water shortages are becoming more common during the summer months and impact both fire behaviour and response operations on the coast.

Preparing for the threat of wildfire is a shared responsibility from homeowners, to businesses to government. We all have the responsibility to reduce our risk and increase our wildfire resiliency.

What is the Risk? The Wildfire Risk Framework used in BC supports initiatives related to wildfire risk reduction. The largest threat to Sooke is wildfire as our community is currently classified in the highest risk category.

This framework measures risk and considers the likelihood of a wildfire event, community consequences, and impacts to high-value resources and assets. By identifying these risk levels, we can prioritize mitigation efforts and increase community resiliency to wildfire.

What is the Structure Ignition Problem? Many homeowners falsely assume there is no wildfire threat to their home and property if not directly on the forest’s edge or in contact with flames. Embers and burning debris can easily travel up to two kilometers ahead of a wildfire and ignite materials on or near your home. This can cause severe damage or total home loss.

Most homes destroyed during a wildfire event are from embers, and surface fires that have not yet reached the crown of the trees. Once homes or adjacent materials begin burning, these residential fuels burn at a higher intensity. The fire will then continue to spread rapidly throughout the community igniting multiple structures simultaneously through direct flame, radiant heat, and casting of shorter ranged embers. No longer influenced by the original wildfire, this urban fire will continue to burn residential fuels and flammable materials.

What is FireSmart? Being FireSmart is about living and co-existing with wildfires because it’s not a matter of if, but when. It’s a tool designed to reduce the likelihood of large uncontrollable, high intensity wildfires within the Wildland Urban Interface.

Recent science and studies have shown that overtime, FireSmart principles can significantly reduce the risk related to losses in the most extreme wildfire conditions. Laboratory testing, physical modeling and recent wildfire events have increased our understanding of structural ignitions and fire behaviour such as radiant heat transfer and the flammability of different building materials.


  • Join Us for Wildfire Preparedness Day on Sunday, June 2!

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    As wildfire season begins in B.C., it’s more important than ever to ensure we are prepared. We are pleased to announce that Broombusters in Sooke is leading a Wildfire Preparedness Day event, in collaboration with the District of Sooke, which will take place on Sunday, June 2, from 11 AM to 1 PM. The event will be held at the Stickleback Urban Trail Head near Journey Middle School on Ponds Park Corridor (see photos).

    Wildfire Preparedness Day is an opportunity for community members to come together to help FireSmart the area and to learn valuable strategies to protect their homes and properties from wildfires. The event will include:

    • Community Clean-Up: Join us in clearing flammable vegetation and debris along the trail to create a safer environment.
    • Education: Experts will provide information on how to fire-smart your home and property, including tips on creating defensible space and using fire-resistant building materials.
    • Emergency Preparedness: Learn how to develop an emergency plan for your family, including evacuation routes and emergency supply kits.

    “We want to empower our community with the knowledge and tools they need to protect themselves from wildfires,” said Sooke Fire Chief Ted Ruiter. “This event is a great way to come together, make a difference, and ensure we are all better prepared for an emergency, such as the threat of wildfire.”

    Participants are encouraged to wear appropriate clothing and bring gloves and any personal tools they have for vegetation clearing. Water and light refreshments will be provided.

    Don't miss this chance to make a positive impact in your community and enhance your own wildfire preparedness. We look forward to seeing you there!

    As always, carpooling and alternative modes of transportation to District events is encouraged. Parking is available nearby at Journey Middle School.

    For more information, please contact:
    Madison Crawford, Fire Protection
    District of Sooke
    Tel: 250.642.5422
    mcrawford@sooke.ca

    Site:

  • Complimentary Broom Drop-Off Program Returns to Sooke

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    The District of Sooke is pleased to announce that the complimentary broom drop-off program is back! As broom begins to bloom, it’s the right time to cut and remove the plant, aiding in the ongoing effort to mitigate the spread of invasive species and reduce wildfire hazards in the area.

    Sooke residents are invited to bring their cut broom to the designated drop-off station at the District of Sooke Parks Yard, located at 2070 Kaltasin Road on Saturdays, from May 4 to 25, from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

    Scotch broom, an invasive woody shrub introduced to southern Vancouver Island in the 1850s, poses ecological threats by competing with native plant species and altering soil chemistry. Its removal is important in reducing wildfire risks and preserving local biodiversity.

    In addition to the drop-off service, residents are encouraged to engage in local broom-busting events, including one this Friday, April 26 – meet at the Broomhill playground at 9:30 a.m. For more local events, please visit sooke.ca/events.


    More about the April 26th Community Clean Up (+ Broom-Busting Event):

    Come together as stewards of Sooke as we tackle the removal of broom and other invasive species litter cleanup near Broomhill playground alongside the Friends of Sooke Parks Society, the Juan Fuca Community Trails Society, Sooke Broombusters and all interested volunteers.

    Meet at the picnic shelter at 9:30 AM to enjoy a light refreshment, hot tea and coffee, and receive a safety orientation as community volunteers come together to make a difference. After 2.5 hours lunch will be provided for volunteers, alongside the opportunity to enjoy each other’s company!

    Please dress for the weather and bring your own tools if you have them. Limited supplies of additional tools and safety gloves are available for community volunteers. Children are welcome, with parent/guardian supervision, to assist with the litter cleanup and smaller invasive plant species removal.

  • Sooke Community Wildfire Resiliency Plan Now Available

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    The District of Sooke's Community Wildfire Resiliency Plan (CWRP) has been recently completed which will be Sooke's roadmap for risk reduction activities over the next five years. The CWRP presents 41 recommendations to enhance the community’s wildfire resiliency.

    Key recommendations include maintaining funding for a full-time FireSmart coordinator position and launching a public education campaign. This plan was developed following the 2022 Community Resiliency Investment program template and standards. Each year, through the District's budget process priority areas for plan implementation will be confirmed.

    Follow the approval of the District's budget at letstalk.sooke.ca/budget and check back on this page to see the plan in action.

  • District Receives $198,000 Through UBCM FireSmart Community Funding and Supports Program

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    The District of Sooke is pleased to announce that it has recently been awarded a successful UBCM FireSmart Community Funding and Supports Grant through the Community Resiliency Investment program for $198,000. This grant will fund FireSmart activities in the District, including the implementation of FireSmart mitigation strategies to help reduce our local wildfire risk and support community resiliency.

    The FireSmart Community Funding and Supports program provides funding to local governments and First Nations in BC to increase community resiliency by undertaking community-based FireSmart planning and activities that reduce the community’s risk from wildfire.

    “On behalf of Council and the community, I extend my appreciation to UBCM and the provincial funding partners to support Sooke’s FireSmart efforts,” says Mayor Maja Tait.

    With the funding, the District will continue FireSmart education and community-based programs including the free FireSmart home assessment program, and initiate two new programs — a FireSmart Rebate program and new opportunities for yard waste/disposal events for residents. Details on each of these new programs are being finalized with more information anticipated early in the new year.

    “Such program expansions provide an exciting opportunity for a new level of engagement and support. I look forward to a successful FireSmart program in collaboration with residents that will reduce the risk of wildfire and improve the safety of our community,” Tait says.

  • Interest in FireSmart Increases

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    Interest in the FireSmart program always increases during a bad wildfire season, as in this case, another record-breaking season. This has been the most expensive and destructive wildfire season in BC.

    Building and maintaining protection around your home and property is an ongoing task throughout the year. No matter where you are in your FireSmart journey, there are lots of resources and initiatives to build and maintain our wildfire resiliency.

    Learn more about how the FireSmart program to reduce wildfire risk is ramping up:

    https://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/voluntary-firesmart-program-wildfire-risk-results-unclear

  • Campfire Ban Lifted

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    The District of Sooke will be lifting the campfire prohibition (category 1) to align with the Coastal Fire Centre’s direction starting tomorrow, Wednesday, September 27th at 12:00 pm.

    We want to remind Sooke residents that the Backyard Burning season remains CLOSED until Wednesday, November 1st. Open burning (category 2 and 3), and the burning of garden and yard debris are not permitted in Sooke at this time.

    Always keep your campfire small, ensure it has a fuel-free area around it (20 feet from property lines and structures), never leave it unattended, have a water source present and ensure it is fully out (cool to the touch) before leaving the area.

  • Podcast Episode 32

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    Episode 32 of the #GetFireSmartPodcast is now live!

    This impactful episode introduces Daniel Berlant, the Acting State Fire Marshal and Deputy Director of Community Wildfire Preparedness and Mitigation at the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE).

    Through our conversation, we learn what his organization is doing to address the increasing threat of wildfires and discuss how residents can participate in creating a safer, more resilient future for everyone.

    Listen on Spotify and Apple Podcasts today.

  • FireSmart Saves Yet Another Home

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    What’s it like to evacuate in the face of a wildfire, and sit back powerlessly from afar and see if the measures you took to protect your home were enough to save it?

    We connected with Paul Kennea on his experience with his property at Gun Lake, and how he believes FireSmart practices saved his cabin.

    Read Paul’s story: https://www.whistler.ca/blog/this-homeowner-says-firesmart-practices-saved-his-home-from-wildfire/

    Photo credit: Paul Kennea

  • Abnormal Fall

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    The Provincial State of Emergency has ended but fire response operations continue in BC. There are many communities that have active local states of emergency where emergency response resources and personnel are dedicated to these areas.

    As warm and dry conditions are expected to continue this fall. Natural fuels remain critically dry and have not recovered due to the lack of rainfall. With 88 active fires in the Coastal Fire Centre, we urge everyone to remain vigilant, and report all wildfire by calling 1-800-663-5555.

    Read more here: https://bc.ctvnews.ca/b-c-officials-warn-of-abnormal-fall-as-warm-dry-conditions-keep-wildfire-risk-high-1.6560049

  • Know Your Resource: Fire Smoke Canada

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    Fire Smoke Canada is an online portal that predicts wildland fire weather and smoke. Interactive forecasts can be seen hourly to understand how wildfire smoke travels. To learn more visit: https://firesmoke.ca/forecasts/current/

    If you or those in your care are exposed to wildfire smoke, consider taking extra precautions to reduce your exposure. Wildfire smoke is a constantly changing mixture of particles and gases which includes many chemicals that can harm your health.

    Signs of wildfire smoke-related illness include eye irritation, runny nose, sore throat, wheezing, mild cough, and headaches. Seek medical attention for more severe symptoms such as shortness of breath, bad cough, dizziness, and chest pain.

    Limit your time outdoors. Stay inside if you have breathing difficulties. Find an indoor place that's cool and ventilated. To learn more, visit: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/publications/healthy-living/how-prepare-wildfire-smoke.html

Page last updated: 23 May 2024, 03:23 PM