Special Areas has been hosting a series of community grassfire information sessions throughout the region, with the events wrapping up on Wed. Nov. 14 in Bindloss, Ab.
Community evenings in Consort, Hanna, Oyen and Youngstown were well attended, with community members and producers coming together to share a meal and learn how to better prepare for, respond to, and mitigate damages from grass fires.
“We know we will never be able to stop all grass fires from happening, but we want to be better prepared for the next one. These community sessions were one way to share some of the lessons we learned after Bindloss, helping everyone be a little safer,” said Owen Francis, Director of Emergency Services.
After the record-setting 2017 fire season, including the disastrous Bindloss fire which burnt over 90,000 acres, Special Areas has been developing simple and effective tools ratepayers can use to help prepare for and respond to grass fires.
Together with local fire services, Scott Vandermeer of VDM Fire Inc. developed an information toolkit to help producers, rural residents, and other community members be more prepared.
Glen Durand, Special Areas Fire Chief, was on hand to provide background on how fire services are provided in the Special Areas.
Some common misconceptions were also discussed, including whether Special Areas charges for fire suppression.
“Special Areas does not charge landowners for fire suppression; in fact, we want everyone to call 911 as quickly as possible if they need us,” shared Durand.
The role of 911 calls in getting critical information to fire services as they respond was discussed.
The importance of staying on the line if possible was shared, as it allows the 911 centre to triangulate location and help emergency services respond faster and more efficiently.
To learn more about grassfire safety information, or to get your own copy of the Fire Safety Toolkit and FireSmart material, head to your local District Office.