Reducing Nanaimo's urban forest fire risk among focuses of Emergency Preparedness Week

By Ian Holmes
May 7, 2018 - 3:26pm

The Fire Smart program will reduce the risk of an interface blaze in Nanaimo's Long Lake Heights area.Ian Holmes/NanaimoNewsNOW

NANAIMO — Reducing the urban wildfire risk in Nanaimo is one of several initiatives aimed at better preparing the community in case of an emergency.

Nanaimo Fire Rescue assistant chief Brad Wood said the federally funded Fire Smart program is designed to guard communities across Canada, including Nanaimo, where the risk of interface fires provides a threat to public safety.

He said the Long Lake Heights area will soon have a community clean-up weekend where combustible debris like dead trees will be removed from around homes in the area.

“We're never sure what kind of summer we're going to have. If we get back into one of the very dry and hot summers, of course the risk goes up then.”

Wood, Nanaimo's Fire Smart rep, said while interface fires present a low to moderate risk in Nanaimo, there is an elevated concern in a few neighbourhoods besides Long Lake Heights. Those include Linley Valley and the Chase River area.

He said there are several easy ways to better protect your property, including keeping grass short and pruning trees.

Wood said the Fire Smart program also helps bring communities together

“It helps build community resilience and really supports the individual communities in the city.”

Eliminating urban fire threats is just one of the focuses for Emergency Preparedness Week, which runs May 6 to 12.

Nanaimo Fire Rescue crews are also distributing brochures to residents and businesses on the topic during during the week.

The City's emergency program manager Karen Lindsay said community outreach is critical in emphasizing how important it is to be ready for any kind of emergency.

“Get those emergency plans in place, sit down and talk to your families about it, get those kits made and be prepared in case there's an emergency in our community.”


Lindsay said there are 19,000 subscribers to the City's Emergency Call Alert System. She said the plan is to expand the program, which calls landlines and sends email notices with emergency notifications, to include text messages to cell phones.

The province's Emergency Alerting System will be tested on Wednesday, May 9 at 1:55 p.m. via Canadian radio and television stations and by text message on compatible mobile devices.


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