Front row from left: Pat Graham, Sue Palmer, Kathy Traynor and Deb Hughes. Back row: Bob Palmer, left, Bob Bell, Roger Graham, Doug Hughes and Jeff Traynor. Missing: Brian Wagner and John Sullivan.

FireSmart work bee success in South Green Lake

Ken Alexader's weekly column

The Bravo FireSmart Neighbourhood Recognition Program crew had a successful work bee this month.

Twelve volunteers picked up tree limbs, logs and other flammable ground fuel on an access strip of land between lots 898 and 902 on Green Lake South Road on Aug. 25, loading the debris onto two trailers. The trailers then made two trips each to the 70 Mile Eco-Depot where the drivers dropped the ground fuel off in the green waste area, where it will eventually be chipped and then recycled.

The work bee was an important step in the effort to help South Green Lake residents get their neighbourhood recognized by FireSmart Canada.

The FireSmart Canada Community Recognition Program is designed to “provide an effective management approach for preserving wildland living aesthetics while reducing community ignition potential.”

According to FireSmart Canada, “FireSmart homes and neighbourhoods allow [wildfire] firefighters to concentrate on fighting the wildfire, which ultimately saves more homes and lives.

“Neighbourhoods in which residents take steps to reduce their vulnerability have a greater chance of surviving a wildfire without the intervention of the [structural] fire department.”

Ultimately, Bob Bell and I, as local FireSmart representatives, and neighbourhood champion Kathy Traynor and her committee want to encourage South Green Lake’s Bravo Neighbourhood residents to work together to reduce their vulnerability and risk of wildfire destruction by FireSmarting their properties and buildings.

Bell said he is pleased with the way Traynor has picked up the ball with this FireSmart Neighbourhoods Recognition program and the way she has run with it with her committee.

“Everyone’s goal is to see three FireSmart Neighbourhoods in the South Green Lake community,” he said.

Traynor said she thought the work bee was great because it was a community event. “It was great to do something for the good of the community. I would say it went smoothly.

“Four huge loads of [flammable ground fuel] from that forested area went to the [70 Mile Eco-Depot] and everyone was in great spirits and had fun doing it.”

Noting there were 12 volunteers, Traynor said two members of the South Green Lake Volunteer Fire Department (SGLVFD) – Brian Wagner and John Sullivan – drove the water supply truck to the event and provided traffic control to ensure the trucks and trailers could get off and on the road safely. Volunteers brought chainsaws that were used to reduce the size of the ground fuel to make them easier and safer to stack in the trailers.

SGLVFD Fire Chief Roger Graham also joined the volunteers in pitching limbs and other ground fuel onto the trailers.

Bell and I arrived early at the work bee to make sure it was safe for the volunteers to walk around and to get a jump on filling the first trailer.

Traynor said each of the volunteers put in about four hours of work that day.

Water and cookies were supplied to the volunteers, thanks to one of the property owner’s generous donations, she added.

“I want to give a huge thank you to all who came out to help that day. We got about two-thirds of that strip of land cleaned up and it reduced the risk of wildfire growth and destruction for the three neighbouring property owners.”

This is exactly what the FireSmart Neighbourhood Program is all about, she added.

Traynor noted that during the work bee one of the volunteers offered to join the Bravo FireSmart Neighbourhood committee.

There are now four committee members, including Deb Hughes, Sue Palmer, Pat Graham and Traynor.

Traynor said it was exciting to see how pumped the volunteers were after the work bee as “they were asking what they could do next?”

Meanwhile, Traynor has to write a report and put in an application to get the Bravo Neighbourhood recognized as a FireSmart Neighbourhood by FireSmart Canada.

Bell and I want to put on a neighbourhood information presentation on how neighbours can protect neighbours by working together on FireSmarting projects.

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