Accidental wildfires are a significant threat that is compounded by climate change. Over the past 40 years, fire suppression practices, increasing annual temperatures, dry conditions, and expanding communities that interface or intermix with vegetated or wooded areas have created heightened circumstances of wildfire activity. Other weather events and natural disasters, such as severe lightning, ice storms or high winds, can also increase the risk of fire activity by adding to fuel sources, encouraging the spread of fire, or creating power outages. Changing temperatures, particularly in the winter, have led to the expanding range and populations of certain native and invasive species. This has contributed to the die-off of large sections of northern forests. These dead trees provide significant sources of fuel. The advancing tree line in many regions in the North is attributed to climate change.
Changing ecosystem conditions in many northern regions are expected to increase in the coming decades, according to climate change projections. The already high risk for wildfire across the North is compounded by shrinking ice road seasons, which requires communities to stock larger fuel supplies. The impacts of wildfire events on critical infrastructure, services, and supplies can be profound, dangerous, and costly.
The Standard provides guidance on site hazard and exposure assessments, wildfire exposure assessment, and wildfire risk assessments.
The Standard recommends that prior to implementation and planning of new subdivisons, northern communities integrate the collection of climate data into the design, development, and construction stages; this can include the collection of climate data and trends related to temperature and rainfall, and prevailing wind directions during wildfire seasons.