Wildfire activity has been increasing in many parts of the country in recent years, with longer fire seasons and larger areas burned. Beyond the direct damage caused to properties and structures in affected communities, smoke that is generated during wildfires can greatly affect the health of populations living in areas sometimes quite distant from the flames. The smoke that results from wildfires is composed of a mixture of pollutants and can have a major impact on air quality and public health. In fact, many Canadian communities that haven’t been directly affected by fire itself have suffered from the presence of wildfire-related smoke in their communities. Some have started working locally and with neighbouring communities to reduce their future risk. Bruderheim is a small community of nearly 1,400 inhabitants located north-east of Edmonton. While the community is not located in the wildland urban interface per se, it is bordered by tall grass on undeveloped lands to the north. Neighbouring communities have been affected by wildfires in the past and, as such, these events have become a growing concern for the town. Additionally, the smoke caused by these events has often reached the community of Bruderheim, causing public health concerns for its residents.
The Town of Bruderheim, Alberta, has been growing increasingly concerned about the threat of wildfire to their community and has decided to undertake a campaign to educate their citizens about the actions that they can take to reduce both their individual and community exposure to wildfires. While forest fires might be the most prominent form of wildfire, these blazes can still travel across the grassland of the open prairie that Bruderheim, just Northeast of the Edmonton, is located in. The town was made aware of the threat posed by wildfires as a result of their participation in a Climate Resilience Express program put on by The All One Sky Foundation. The town used events such as community barbecues and door-to-door program in order to disseminate information about the threat of wildfire and mitigating actions that individual homeowners can take. Furthermore, Bruderheim now leads a formal partnership alongside the nearby town of Gibbon and Lamont, called Resilient Rurals, which is working to develop means of climate resilience actions that are appropriate and effective for small and rural communities. Beyond just the initial threat of wildfire, this group seeks to address other climate-related hazards of concern to small communities on the prairies including extreme wind events, flooding, and extreme heat events.