The Town of Whitecourt, in partnership with the local Fire Department, is offered free FireSmart ™ home assessments to their residents to provide recommendations that will better protect their home and property from the increasing threat of wildfires. Following the assessment, residents were eligible for grant incentives to implement the recommended priority solutions. The home improvements aimed to help reduce the spread of wildfire in the area.
The Town of Whitecourt completed over 70 Home Assessments and found homeowners to be very engaged and appreciated of the feedback they received through the assessment. This was a record number of home assessments for the community. Of the assessments completed, 13 participants submitted applications for rebates on suggested upgrades to their properties. Many homeowners commented that without the incentive program, they would not have been able to implement the recommendations suggested. The Town of Whitecourt hopes to continue this program in the future.
The Town has also purchased a Sprinkler Protection Unit Trailer to the national standard (SPU2) for protection of our community and deployment to others, if needed. The trailer was equipped with six (6) water pumps, two (2) portable water tanks, sprinkler inventory, hose inventory, ladder, hydrant connections, fittings, hand tools, chain saw, generator, and power tools. The trailer was deployed to different areas over the course of the 2023 wildfire season to help protect evacuated communities from approaching wildfires.
Considerations for Adopting a FireSmart Home Assessment and Sprinkler Protection Unit Trailer Program
- Ensure all assessors have the same training and information. The Town of Whitecourt’s initiative was led by their fire chief who provided training to all assessors participating in the program. This resulted in uniform results during assessments and consistent information being delivered to homeowners.
- Be aware of time. When creating your project timeline, be sure to account for and even prepare for extra time on deliverables.
- Had time not been an issue, more assessors could have been trained to complete more home assessments.
- The home inspection process can be time consuming when done properly. The Town of Whitecourt ensured all assessors were providing as much information as possible to homeowners. Having more than one assessor allowed more time to spent on each assessment.
- Outfitting the sprinkler trailer took approximately 100 hours. Having additional support may have reduced the time needed to get the trailer ready.
Read more on how the Town of Whitecourt's FireSmart homeowner incentive program is building wildfire resiliency in their community.