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Sunday, March 5, 2017

New wildfire risk assessment and mitigation report released for Pincher Creek


Pincher Creek Emergency Services Commission - The Pincher Creek Wildfire Mitigation Strategy assesses the risk throughout the region where wildlands meet agricultural and residential development, including the towns, villages, and tourist developments in the area.

Although the land is damp right now, wildfire season isn’t far away – and in years without a lot of snow, the risk is ever present. That’s why when Pincher Creek Emergency Services Commission (PCESC) Chief Dave Cox jumped at the opportunity to make the region a little more FireSmart through a grant offered by the Forest Resource Improvement Association of Alberta.


“I submitted an expression of interest for our entire municipality - the MD of Pincher Creek and the town of Pincher Creek,” said Cox. “Our application was kind of unique in that we asked for a mitigation strategy for the whole municipality.”

The application was successful, and a specialized consulting company was hired to create a wildfire risk report, complete with a mitigation strategy to reduce the risk.

“I know from my history that urban interface fires have been identified as an issue even prior to 2003, which was our first big exposure with the Lost Creek fire,” said Cox. “So when the funds became available to do this project, basically with a 100 per cent grant, I really felt we had the chance to do something positive for our community.”

The resulting Pincher Creek Wildfire Mitigation Strategy assesses the risk throughout the region where wildlands meet agricultural and residential development, including the towns, villages, and tourist developments in the area.

“The report doesn’t just pertain to the forest environment, but also higher risk areas like communities adjacent to the railway tracks where we know we can have fire starts. Our fire threat in southern Alberta is a little different in that we can have major fires 12 months a year, depending on our winter. We actually have a higher hazard, generally speaking, in the fall and winter – if we have an open, dry winter - than we do in the summer time.”

The MD of Pincher Creek is diverse in landscapes and land uses. Potential forest fires, grass fires combined with tourism, protected parks, rural subdivisions and forest-based communities mean that Pincher Creek Emergency Services Commission must be ready to respond to virtually any situation with a moment’s notice.

“The strategy is developed to identify potential hazards and with that how we help people mitigate the risks on their properties. There are new standardized procedures to reduce this risk through a program called FireSmart Canada. We actually know this system works, and we want to give people the opportunity to learn about their wildfire risk, and what they can do to reduce that risk to their property, their livestock and even their lives,” Cox said. “Eventually, we want to be in a position to provide on-site visits from our department to do assessments for residents who request that service.”

There will be a series of open houses held throughout the region where people can learn about their specific fire risk, and what they can do to reduce it.

“There are proven tools such as landscaping and fuel removal that really improve the odds that your buildings will survive a wildfire,” said Cox. “This report has provided an in-depth analysis of the highest-risk areas, and FireSmart Canada provides the tools to make a difference.”

A total of five open houses are being held over the course of three days, and the public is encouraged to attend. On Tuesday, March 14, they will be held at Lundbreck Community Hall from 1:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m., and at Coalfields School at Beaver Mines from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m., and on March 15 at the Twin Butte Hall from 1:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m., and at the Heritage Inn at Pincher Creek from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. The final open house will be held at Summerview Hall, located at Heritage Acres from 1:30 p.m. – 4 p.m.

“When people think of wildland fires, they imagine forests. But the reality is that in the MD of Pincher Creek, we have forest and grassland, and we have people living, working and playing throughout the entire area.”

For more information, please contact Pincher Creek Emergency Services Commission Chief Dave Cox at 403-627-9504. To download or view a copy of the Pincher Creek Wildfire Mitigation Strategy, please visit https://goo.gl/gSb0CE

About Pincher Creek Emergency Services Commission

Pincher Creek Emergency Services Commission (PCESC) is an accredited, integrated fire and emergency medical response service. Based out of Pincher Creek, Alberta, PCESC operates two advanced life support ambulances 24 hours per day, seven days per week, and operates fire and rescue services out of Pincher Creek, Beaver Mines and Lundbreck to better serve the MD of Pincher Creek.

Our Vision

Pincher Creek Emergency Services Commission is continually striving to be a leader in our communities by providing excellence in emergency care, protection and prevention.

Our Mission


We will protect life and property by providing emergency medical care, fire suppression, prevention and education within our communities while fostering a spirit of volunteerism and family. We will serve with pride, honour and professionalism. We value and support our members, providing a safe working environment, training and education, and by encouraging a healthy work/life balance.


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