Saskatchewan Recognizes National Wildfire Community Preparedness Day
Saskatchewan recognizes the second annual National Wildfire Community Preparedness Day on Saturday, May 7. The day is set aside each year to raise awareness about wildfire safety and to encourage people to take steps to protect their homes, neighbourhoods and communities.
“This day takes on a special significance this year, given the dramatic events in Alberta this week, and our own unprecedented wildfire season last year,” Environment Minister Herb Cox said. “Our thoughts are with the people of Fort McMurray, and with those still dealing with impacts from last year’s wildfires.”
“Following last summer’s wildfires in northern Saskatchewan, we have seen how important it is to be prepared for an emergency,” Government Relations Minister Jim Reiter added. “As we wind down Emergency Preparedness Week, it’s a good reminder to all Saskatchewan families and communities to prepare their emergency plans. Even packing a basic emergency kit with water, non-perishable foods, a flashlight, batteries, a radio, a first-aid kit, prescription medications, and copies of identification can make a difference.”
The Government of Saskatchewan helps communities prepare for and reduce their risk from wildfire. Last winter and spring, the Ministry of Environment worked with Indigenous Affairs and Northern Development Canada and the Prince Albert Grand Council to complete 15 fuel management projects in 11 different First Nations communities, thinning volatile forests and removing deadfall to reduce potential fuel. The ministry also completed another six projects, thinning approximately 40 hectares of forest near northern communities.
“For those living in the forest, the threat of wildfire can never be completely eliminated, but it can be reduced,” Cox said. “It’s been demonstrated many times, sometimes dramatically, that being prepared can make a tremendous difference when wildfire happens.”
In May 2015, Wadin Bay was recognized as the province's first FireSmart community on the first National Wildfire Community Preparedness Day. The community, located 28 kilometres north of La Ronge, completed a wildfire risk assessment and then implemented a plan to address the risks identified. Less than two months later, these efforts were tested when an enormous wildfire burned adjacent to Wadin Bay. Although three structures were burned, the rest of the community was saved, thanks to community foresight and preparation, along with the hard work of firefighters and volunteers.
National Wildfire Community Preparedness Day highlights the important role that communities can play in reducing their own risk from wildfire. The observance was initiated in Canada by Partners in Protection Canada, with support from provincial and territorial wildfire agencies.