Enterprise is a small community of 120 residents located between Great Slave Lake and the Alberta border. While the Hamlet does not have a history of destructive wildfires, its close proximity to woodlands makes wildfires a constant threat. Community preparedness involving wildfire mitigation requires the joint effort of residents, property owners and multiple levels of government. FireSmart Canada guidelines for community protection can assist communities in reducing the risk of wildfire damage to property and firefighters in protecting homes. Its recommendation of a wildfire hazard assessment helps communities to determine which actions are needed. For instance, if both wildfire hazard level and risk are low, community planning may not be necessary; however, if both are high, both a Wildfire Preparedness Guide and Mitigation Strategy are suggested. Varying results for hazard level and risk call for different plans of action. Communities can form FireSmart Committees to help develop their plans and to work with volunteers to engage in risk reducing activities such as clean-ups. Community clean-ups involve the removal of potentially hazardous debris and fallen branches, dry grass and needles left on the ground. In addition to vegetation management, public education is an essential component of any FireSmart plan, through which residents learn about the threat of wildfire and how it can be mitigated
Following a close call from a fire in 2015, in which the community of Enterprise, in Northwest Territories, was placed on alert, the community enacted a fire mitigation strategy in order to reduce the town’s vulnerability to the ever-present threat of wildfire. Located about halfway between the Alberta border and the shores of Great Slave Lake, Enterprise is deep within the Canadian Boreal Forest and is thus subject to the constant threat of wildfire. Enterprise’s new plan for community wildfire preparedness places a lot of emphasis on two aspects of such resilience: vegetation management and cross-training provided with support of the Territorial Government. The vegetation management takes multiple forms but can be described most simply as a means of reducing the amount of vegetation near the community that can act as a fuel for wildfire. This can take different forms depending on the context of the local area. For example, near roads and railways, where risk of a fire ignition can be high due to human actions such as the disposal of lit cigarettes, vegetation management means the removal of dead branches and other such easily-ignitable debris from the ground. Closes to homes and critical infrastructure, this may mean the removal of trees or branches that overhang buildings, perhaps even the creation of a fuel-break. This hard work has earned Enterprise the distinction of being the first community in the entire Northwest Territories to be officially recognized as a FireSmart community.