The province of British Columbia is providing funds to help communities take action and reduce the risks of wildfire.

Fifty grants of $10,000, for a total of $500,000, will be made available to local governments and First Nations through the Strategic Wildfire Prevention Initiative (SWPI).

“Homeowners who live in interface areas can help protect their properties from wildfires by using FireSmart principles. This new grant program will help communities and First Nations raise awareness of this important work and become recognized as FireSmart Communities,” said Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.

The 2016 SWPI FireSmart program will support communities to plan for wildfire prevention activities on private land.

FireSmart activities help decrease wildfire threats to homes and property, and can prevent damage to structures, increase the effectiveness of firefighters, and safeguard fire-suppression resources.

The funding through the 2016 FireSmart program will be used to enhance public awareness of FireSmart principles, increase community participation, advance planning to address wildfire mitigation on private land, and help communities obtain official recognition as a FireSmart community.

The FireSmart program involves engaging neighbours, property owners, local government, and First Nations authorities, and other agencies to meet a set of recognition criteria to assist communities become more resilient to wildfire.

As of September 1st, 286 community wildfire protection plans have been completed by local governments and First Nations, and another 44 are in progress. Completed fuel treatments and risk reduction efforts have covered 78,245 hectares in and around communities that face significant wildfire risk.

Applications for the SWPI FireSmart Grant program are being accepted until November 30th.

The program and application guide and application form is available on the Union of British Columbia Municipalities website.