New IcoE report: FireSmart guidelines for Canada’s wildfires

Fire image with ICLR Sept 21 news itemRisk Reduction Status of Homes Reconstructed Following Wildfire Disasters in Canada” is a new report from Alan Westhaver and the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR)  and the first study released since ICLR was selected as an IRDR ICoE for Disaster Resilient Homes, Buildings, and Public Infrastructure (DRHBPI). The study on wildfire risk is the first of its kind in Canada and examines an aspect of wildfire disaster mitigation and recovery that has not been previously investigated. Westhaver looked at nearly 450 homes rebuilt after two of Canada’s largest wildfires to determine if they were simply  put back ‘as was’ or whether ‘FireSmart’ risk mitigations were put into place. The report includes an executive summary and specific recommendations.

This study assessed current wildfire risk in homes reconstructed since the wildfires occurred and sought to analyse to what degree homeowners adopted and implemented FireSmart measures to mitigate the risk of future wildfire losses. This comparison created a reliable measure of the degree to which FireSmart guidelines have been accepted and adopted by homeowners and focused on hazard mitigations applied by residents at, or very near to, private homes.

In general, results of this investigation showed that a few FireSmart solutions have been widely adopted by homeowners, others in part, and some very little or not at all. The degree of adoption for known risk mitigations varied between geographic areas, between different categories of wildfire hazards, within categories of related hazard factors, and spatially within the home ignition zone. Equally important, the study revealed similarities between levels of adoption for some risk mitigation activities. Differences between urban centres and more rural settings were minor. Overall, twice as many wildfire hazard factors received a poor adoption grade, as those that attained an “excellent” rating.