Comment: Wildfires force a rethink of how communities are built

Comment: It is vital that residents and business owners know practical ways to protect their lives, property and assets from wildfires.

Commentary from the Senior Vice President of First Place Property Renewal. He has been to every major wildfire and catastrophic event in Canada over the past 12 years.

A sense of brutal déjà vu hit the town of Lytton as the latest wildfire continued to grow northwest of the town. Less than 13 months after the devastating fire that displaced the town, Litton faced another challenge – the Nohomin Creek wildfire.

Warm and dry weather this week could provide fuel for unsettled conditions and the fire to continue to grow rapidly.

This is another in a series of reminders that continue to be common every summer. These fires have devastated communities across Canada, the United States, Australia and Europe, creating heat waves and blazing trails of destruction.

Looking back in hindsight, the 2021 BC fires produced one of the worst wildfire seasons in the state’s history (behind 2017 and 2018). More than 1,600 fires have burned nearly 8,700 square kilometers of land.

It was all part of a larger weather event, the 2021 Western North American Extreme Heat Wave (also known as a heat dome) – a 1,000-year weather event.

To understand and learn about the tragic events that took place in the province last year, First Onsite is a 200 B.C. A survey of residents showed that 85 percent were concerned about wildfires (leading the country by a large margin).

Fires and heavy rains or floods (82 percent) have increased regional fears of weather-related hazards. This sentiment certainly supports the link between last year’s wildfires and the 2021 Pacific Northwest floods, landslides and devastating river surges in November.

Natural disasters can often engulf homes, move businesses, and devastate communities. There is a high risk of disruption to lives and businesses. Preparedness advice number 1 is awareness – listen to the authorities, follow evacuation warnings and be ready to go at the drop of a hat, full of gas and a packed bag. Acting quickly can save lives.

BC wildfires occur in cycles. Canada’s wild forests have burned naturally since at least the last Ice Age. The fire greatly affects the structure, growth and regeneration of the forest.

The ecosystem depends on such repeated natural disturbances. Fire-dependent species such as lodgepole and jack pines have serotoninous, resin-coated cones that are allowed to dissolve during fire, allowing the seeds to disperse to start a new pine forest.

Fire creates ideal conditions for these pine seeds to germinate. As communities continue to expand among these forests, some risks remain.

Discussions and actions were taken to prevent, prepare and build communities to be more resilient to fire. Several strategies are being developed.

Modern building materials and techniques are more resistant to fire damage, and are more durable. Many of these choices, such as concrete siding over wood, metal roofing over reeds, and fire-smart landscaping can be the difference between minimal smoke damage and a building burning to the ground.

It is important for residents and business owners to know practical ways to protect their lives, property and assets from wildfires. This includes cleaning sewage; Removal of nearby coniferous trees; Cutting down trees and mowing grass; and creating an evacuation plan. Additionally, it is very important to ensure that businesses and homes have adequate insurance coverage.

Wildfire smoke can be very dangerous, widespread, and widespread. In major cities like Vancouver, we often see fires up to 1,000 kilometers in the air, 40 times the normal safe limit due to wildfire smoke.

Surprisingly, in 2017 and 2018 B.C. Smoke from a wildfire in central Europe reached the stratosphere in BC.

Providing clean air for employees, customers, tenants and residents is a priority. Employers can take steps to protect workers, including allowing flexible work schedules on days with low air quality and installing additional air-cleaning equipment.

As planners and developers consider how planned/inhabited environments can coexist with natural environments, communities can take additional steps to protect themselves, reduce business disruption, and preserve life.

Disasters provide an opportunity to rethink how our societies are built – and how to make them stronger and more sustainable.

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