Vulnerable homeowners in areas threatened by wildfire can access free FireSmart advice and support from a government-funded job creation project supported by the United Way.
Sixteen people will work over the summer to help seniors and persons with disabilities become FireSmart by preparing and protecting their homes from the threat of wildfires in the communities of Ashcroft, Cache Creek, 100 Mile House, Williams Lake, Clinton and Quesnel. This includes educating people about how to make their homes and property safer and removing vegetation that can fuel a wildfire.
To promote safety for people and communities, homeowners will also receive fire prevention materials and a resource list for assistance and support. The project, originally scheduled to end in April 2019, has been extended by four months to meet community need and to provide more job seekers with more opportunities.
“Connecting people with new skills and opportunities is part of our government’s focus on creating good jobs,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “Community-driven projects like this one benefit participants, communities and the labour market, while creating a safer environment.”
The project provides extensive training in the formal FireSmart assessment process. The Thompson Nicola Cariboo United Way offers this service for free so people in wildfire-prone parts of the province have help protecting their home from potential fire threats. The crews also remove possible dangers, known as fire fuels, such as bushes, small trees or other organic matter, and provide information on how homeowners can further protect their property.
“There is a high demand for skilled workers to provide advice, support and labour in helping prevent the devastating loss of homes during the wildfire season,” said Jennifer Rice, Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness. “Training local people in fire mitigation will help meet the need for skilled workers in this and related fields.”
The Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction provided $729,498 through the Jobs Creation Program stream of the Community and Employer Partnerships (CEP) program. CEP funds projects that increase employability levels and share labour market information.
“In being able to provide FireSmart activities at no charge to vulnerable people in communities impacted by wildfires, those homeowners feel better prepared and less stressed,” said Monica Johnson, fire mitigation project manager, United Way Thompson Nicola Cariboo. “The training and experience we provide to the participants are relevant and definitely increases their employability. We’ve had several participants exit the program because they’ve gotten jobs.”
Clayton Flanders, participant, 100 Mile House Fire Mitigation Job Creation Program –
“This program brings quality changes to both your personal and your professional lives. Not only does it provide important courses needed by future employers, what you learn in the fire mitigation training provides greater safety not only for your own home and neighbourhood but your local community. Thank you for the opportunity to make a big difference not only in my life, but for the others who now feel safer in their own homes.”
Ken Wiebe, homeowner, 108 Mile House –
“We were evacuated 15 days in the 2017 fires. There are people out here who would be absolutely helpless if that happens again. The work is very necessary.”
Florence and Morris Gran, homeowners, Quesnel –
“We are two senior citizens who qualified for the fire mitigation program. Al and his crew of three came to our ranch yesterday and today. They cut limbs, cut junipers, raked and worked steadily. He did not just supervise but worked hard alongside the young men working with him. And we are so grateful. This program is a real asset for seniors.”
- Approximately $15 million will be invested in CEP projects throughout B.C. in 2019-20.
- Job Creation Partnerships are one of five Community Employer Partnership programs available throughout the province.
- To date, since the start of the project in August 2018, 22 people have received training and work experience.
- Project participants have completed 264 FireSmart assessments and 220 mitigations. The goal is to complete 100 more.
Learn about how Community Employer Partnerships are helping local communities: www.workbc.ca/Employment-Services/Community-and-Employer-Partnerships.aspx
Learn more about Job Creation Partnerships: https://www.workbc.ca/Employment-Services/Community-and-Employer-Partnerships/Job-Creation-Partnerships.aspx
Find out more about Thompson Nicola Cariboo United Way: https://www.unitedwaytnc.ca/
Learn more about FireSmart: https://www.firesmartbc.ca