Emergency Preparedness and being FireSmart

It’s Emergency Preparedness Week in Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo and residents are asked to stay prepared for emergencies that can impact their community or neighbourhood.

“If you’re living in Timberlea or Thickwood, floods probably aren’t a risk to you. If you’re in the Waterways, the Drapers, the Grayling Terrace, the Downtown then it certainly is a significant risk for you,” says Regional Fire Chief, Jody Butz.

The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo has a ready-made Regional Emergency Management Plan (REMP) for each community in Wood Buffalo.

Butz states that residents should be prepared with an emergency kit that can support their families for at least three days.

He commented that the fear of floods is behind us with river break up officially declared and that Wood Buffalo is now in wildfire season.

“We have a FireSmart program that we’ve been working on within the region since the fire of 2016,” says Butz. “The Regional Wildfire Mitigation Strategies supported by the Mayor and Council was kind of the template that we had to move forward.”

“I’m very proud to say that we have some FireSmart communities in our region and the work that we’ve done in fire smarting some of those spots in communities has reduced the risk of the wildfire coming and impacting urban areas.”

Butz described the program this year as being focused on home assessment.

He says that this year they want to focus on areas close to the home such as keeping gutters clear, using less-flammable materials for decks, and even switching away from using wood chips to decorate your home.

“What everybody recognizes in a wildfire scenario, is the flame front, but there’s the ember transfer.”

This means that embers from a wildfire can travel far distances landing on combustible materials around your home and igniting a fire.

“Without the ember transfer, you’ll have a bigger chance that if evacuated, you will come back to an intact home,” Butz notes.

Additional FireSmart tips can be found on the RMWB website.

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