The District of Logan Lake is nestled into a forested area in the mountains of south-central British Columbia and is a leader in developing and implementing programs to reduce wildfire risks. In 2003, the Okanagan Mountain Park Fire forced the evacuation of approximately 27,000 residents across the City of Kelowna. The District of Logan Lake sent firefighting resources to help out but found themselves affected by a few fires while they were operating with reduced resources. The fires were controlled by local firefighters, nevertheless this event triggered a reaction from the District’s council, who started looking into local wildfire protection options. In 2003 the District developed the first community wildfire protection plan in British Columbia. Communities located in the wildland urban interface may face an even greater risk if there are limited firefighting resources available in the area. This problem can be exacerbated when local firefighting resources are mobilized to support fire suppression efforts in other communities during large-scale events, a concern that has been more evident in recent years. In addition, communities located in remote or isolated areas can be more difficult to reach if there is only one access road to get to the area. Outside assistance may fail to arrive in a timely manner, increasing the risk of loss and damage. The unique challenges faced by remote municipalities call for innovative wildfire mitigation tools and programs. For example, the District of Logan Lake pioneered the approach of a community risk assessment, installation of rooftop sprinklers controlled by local fire professionals, and residential assessments maintained in a database that informs local fire response.
After a major evacuation due to a fire in a nearby City, in 2004 the District of Logan Lake, British Columbia, took serious measures to help increase the resilience of the community to wildfire. In 2003, a fire in Kelowna, a little over 100km from Logan Lake, forced the evacuation of some 27,000 residents. Logan Lake sent its own firefighters to battle the blaze and was then threatened by fires on its own margins. This event forced the administration of the district to seriously consider options to improving resilience. While their response was a multifaceted approach to fire resiliency, the primary focus of this case study is on the innovative use of rooftop sprinklers to ensure that homes can be well-defended against wildfire even in the absence of firefighters on the property. These come with several important features that limit the chances of mishandling or damage to the sprinkler systems, ensuring that they will be operational when the need arises. The program is supported by several other related fire-resilience policies such as educational outreach, vegetation management, permitting for backyard burns, and the integration of geographic information systems into the operational structure of fire response units. This program earned Logan Lake the distinction of being the first recognized FireSmart Community in Canada and has resulted in about one third of all homes being protected by these systems so far.