Lac La Biche County applications to Alberta’s FireSmart program are the hottest in the province.
“During the 2021 season —this past season—Lac La Biche County led the way for all municipalities in Alberta for fire-smart assessments and practices. We have also been shortlisted to possibly get a $100,000 fire smart incentive program grant,” says the municipality’s regional fire chief and Manager of Protective Services John Kokotilo.
The Fire-Smart program is part of a provincial awareness and funding program through the Forest Resource Improvement Association of Alberta (FRIAA).
This year, the department is hoping to receive the grant—for the fourth time— in order to provide $50,000 worth of protective and educational services for the community again with added benefits, says Kokotilo.
The services include education programming and in-person home assessments about clearing up yards to help reduce the spread of a wildland fire, chipping trees and brush around property lines to reduce fire hazards and subsidized purchases of rooftop and building-attached sprinkler systems.
The funding will allow the program to only require an additional $8,500 from municipal tax dollars in order to provide the service year-round, says Kokotilo, making the application for the program a great choice.
As well, says the fire chief, there are additional monetary funds available to the county this year due to the progress and hard work Lac La Biche County Fire Services has had in recent years compared to other municipalities.
A new proposal for 2022 assistance will be submitted to FRIAA by November 21.
Moving forward, the County's Human Resource department will be required to hire firefighters to run the program for the next calendar year, says Kokotilo who will oversee the program.
Support from municipal councillors on the success of the local program has been unanimous.
“Being in our location there is a high risk for fires, I think it’s imperative that we be prepared—as much as we possibly can,” says Ward 4 Councillor Jason Stedman.