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Record-breaking fire season sparks extension of Vernon FireSmart position

Grant funding allows city to hire person for one-year term
Alan Hofsink joins Vernon Fire Rescue Services as the City of Vernon’s first FireSmart program coordinator. (City of Vernon)

The City of Vernon is adding a full-time position to help out Vernon Fire Rescue Services.

Council voted unanimously to spend nearly $90,000 to create a FireSmart Coordinator position for one year. Alan Hofsink was hired six weeks ago to fulfill the position.

“Although we are now into autumn and the fire risk has been reduced, we saw so much evidence this summer about the importance of preparing ourselves, our homes and our community to face an emergency,” said Hofsink.

“Actions can be taken throughout the year to FireSmart your property, including during fall yard cleanup. I’m looking forward to working with residents to talk about the easy and practical ways they can increase safety at home.”

Money has already been received for the position from the city’s successful application to the Union of British Columbia Municipalities’ (UBCM) Community Resiliency Investment Program – 2021 FireSmart Economic Recovery Fund.

The position is designed to build local wildfire resilience in the city.

“We’ve been running the FireSmart program off the corners of our desks,” said Vernon Fire Rescue Services Chief David Lind Wednesday, Oct. 13.

“Having this position will allow us to coordinate all those efforts and focus on the community.”

The history of FireSmart in Canada goes back to 1990 when a committee was established to address common concerns about wildfire in the wildland urban interface, where wildlands and human development come together.

The mandate was to facilitate interagency co-operation in the promotion of awareness and education aimed at reducing risk of loss of life and property from fire in the wildland urban interface.

A person has already been hired and doing the position in Vernon for six weeks.

The term ends in June 2022 and Lind is hopeful that the position can be extended for another year.

“I’m excited by this, and the person we’ve hired is already doing wonderful work,” said Lind. “I think this will be a trend across B.C. We need to have more focus on FireSmart in our communities.”

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Roger Knox

About the Author: Roger Knox

I am a journalist with more than 30 years of experience in the industry. I started my career in radio and have spent the last 21 years working with Black Press Media.
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