An initiative to FireSmart Kamloops neighbourhoods fizzles | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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An initiative to FireSmart Kamloops neighbourhoods fizzles

Kamloops resident Curt Steeves built and installed a rooftop sprinkler in response to the Juniper Fire that threatened his community beginning of July.
Image Credit: Curt Steeves
September 12, 2021 - 3:37 PM

When the fires went out, it appears so too did any community interest in protecting Kamloops from future fires.

After seeing plenty of interest at the height of fire season, a public information meeting about FireSmarting neighbourhoods last week mostly went up in smoke. 

The meeting was initiated by Bala Nikku, Assistant Professor of Social Work and Human Service at Thompson River’s University, in response to months of devastating wildfire activity and smoky skies in the province. As wildfire activity slows down in the province there is an opportunity to prepare for the next season ahead of time.

Nikku’s goal is to bring a FireSmart Canada program to neighbourhoods in Kamloops, starting with one that spreads out along Schubert Drive, where last week's meeting was held.

READ MORE: Kamloops residents invited to meeting on how to fire smart a neighbourhood

Citizen involvement is the cornerstone of the FireSmart Canada program, an online program developed to protect structures, neighbourhoods and natural resources from wildfire. Nikku put three hundred invitations into neighbourhood mailboxes prior to the event.

“Fewer than ten people came out to the event,” Nikku said. “People’s memories are short, when they stop seeing visuals of fires on media they think they are safe, or they get distracted by other things. Part of the reason for the small turnout is the timing. Planning this for a weekend was not a good idea as people were out engaging in weekend activities. Also, people don’t know me and perhaps wonder what my legitimacy is." 

Community work takes time.

Nikku intends to continue to take steps to engage and educate his community.

“Now that I have got some names of people who are interested in knowing more about FireSmart and joining this movement, we will be organizing another coffee event on a working day, so that city representatives can join us,” he said. “I teach community social work and here is the opportunity for me to implement community social work practice.”

Nikku said his next steps include arranging a visit with a FireSmart representative and arranging a board that will include other homeowners and fire professionals and possibly land managers, planners and members of other interest groups.

“I came to know that as of today there is not even one community in Kamloops that has been recognized as FireSmart," he said. "Logan Lake is the first community that received FireSmart recognition in B.C. There are lots of lessons to learn from this community."

READ MORE: Logan Lake has written the Fire Smart playbook for other cities, towns to follow

To contact a reporter for this story, email Shannon Ainslie or call 250-819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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