What is the Resort Municipality of Whistler doing to prepare for wildfires?
Wildfire Protection Strategy
The Resort Municipality of Whistler is investing in an accelerated and aggressive wildfire protection program guided by a comprehensive Wildfire Protection Strategy. The strategy includes 17 prioritized recommendations for planning, fuel reduction and outreach programs to reduce the impact of wildfire on Whistler. In 2018, the RMOW updated the strategy to no longer permit any backyard burning of yard waste.
The Wildfire Protection Strategy includes an active fuel treatment program, the FireSmart program, a comprehensive fire behaviour analysis to identify strategic landscape fuel breaks, equipment upgrades and new fire detection technologies.
Efforts to reduce the threat of wildfires in Whistler have been significant but it is estimated it will take approximately 20 more years to implement all of the required measures to fully protect Whistler from Wildfires.
Find out more about the Wildfire Mitigation Program in the November 20, 2018 presentation to council.
Fuel reduction -reducing the amount of highly combustible organic matter such as trees, woody debris and ground cover- is an important component of Whistler’s wildfire protection program.
The municipality is focused on:
- Fuel thinning projects to reduce fuels in high priority forested areas near neighbourhoods or critical municipal infrastructure.
- Create fuel breaks along forest service roads.
Learn more about fuel thinning projects and fuel breaks.
Home and property owners also have a critical role to play in reducing Whistler's wildfire risk.
The FireSmart Program provides education and practical support to homeowners to reduce the impact of wildfires on their properties.
The RMOW’s FireSmart coordinator and Whistler Fire Rescue Service delivers:
- Fuel reduction projects (including Adopt-a-trail, community chipper days, and FireSmart treatments on municipal properties)
- Education and resources
- Free FireSmart home and strata property assessments
Fire danger ratings
Whistler’s current Fire Danger Rating is updated daily by the BC Wildfire Service.
Backyard burning is not allowed in Whistler. A permit is required for all campfires in Whistler. Permits are only granted once the Fire Department has done a site visit to determine a campfire will not pose at threat to the community.
Some construction activities are restricted and campfires are banned when the rating is High or Extreme.
The municipality’s Emergency Program works with other local first response agencies to develop and implement plans to prepare for, respond to and recover from large-scale emergencies, including wildfires.
The RMOW Emergency Program and Whistler Fire Rescue Service lead and participate in regular training exercises along with community partners and other agencies to test systems, improve communication and build capacity for responding to emergencies such as wildfires.