Vegetation management involves a number of fuel management options, including fuel removal, fuel reduction and species conversion. Maintaining the recommended non-combustible zone around homes can go a long way by reducing the chances of wildfire spread from wind-blown embers. Incorporating FireSmart requirements in legislation tackles the issue from the planning and development angle and promotes more consistent implementation throughout municipalities. Ensuring that development standards support neighbourhood growth that espouses FireSmart design and building materials is important. Interagency cooperation ensures that professional wildfire responders are involved in the planning process, but also residents, industry and other government and non-government partners. Also, cross-training allows emergency response teams from different firefighting disciplines to share knowledge and expertise and to work together to combat the common threat. Wildfires know no jurisdictional boundaries, making collaboration key to successfully reducing risk. The Town of Canmore has been applying FireSmart mitigation measures for over 15 years, embracing all seven of the major FireSmart disciplines: education, emergency planning, vegetation management, legislation, development, interagency cooperation and cross-training. Through the education and heightened awareness of community residents and professionals, a grassroots movement can emerge to drive FireSmart programs. Because multiple agencies are usually involved, it is important that roles and responsibilities are clear and that resources are deployed efficiently.
As far back as 2005, the Town of Canmore has undertaken wildfire mitigation strategies through the application of FireSmart principles and practice. Nestled in the scenic bow valley on the Eastern fringes of the Rocky Mountains, Canmore is surrounded by woodlands on all sides and, therefore, quite exposed to the risk of wildfire in the wildland-urban interface. There has been a longstanding tradition of forward-looking fire management practices, with fire hazard assessments being conducted as early as 1993. Importantly, the Town of Canmore has embraced all seven of the FireSmart disciplines: education, emergency planning, vegetation management, legislation, development, interagency cooperation and cross-training. There are numerous examples of these disciplines in action to draw on. For example, there has been a ban on flammable roofing material for residential developments in the Town since 1999. Canmore is also collaborating with a wide variety of partnering organizations drawn from the local, provincial, and federal levels. It has also worked hard to provide training for fire officials and education and outreach programs for the public in general. While these measures have not yet been put to the test by a wildfire that affects the town directly, they nevertheless can be said to have substantially improve the readiness and resilience of the Town of Canmore to wildfires.