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Coquitlam forest-border homeowners can book free FireSmart assessments by Sept. 1

More than 7,000 residents along the Tri-Cities wildland-urban interface met with local experts as their homes are more at-risk for damage if a wildfire ignites.

Wildfires are a potential threat to thousands of Tri-Cities residents and their properties along forest borders.

The City of Coquitlam is hoping to ensure safety for all in its jurisdiction by offering free home assessments over the next month with locally-trained experts.

FireSmart reviews are available for booking between now and Sept. 1, 2022, in which a representative will visit a home, analyze where upgrades are needed and provide recommendations on what needs to be fixed immediately.

Now, there are no wildfires in the Tri-Cities' vicinity.

Fire risk ratings are "moderate" in communities across the region, including Coquitlam, with temperatures rising between 35 and 40 C with humidity this week.

There are five wildfires of note in the Coastal Fire Centre — none larger than three hectares — and there's a ban in effect for Category 2 and 3 open burning, including campfires higher and wider than 0.5 metres.

Suggested FireSmart improvements are not mandatory, Coquitlam Fire Rescue deputy chief Scott Young says.

However, financial support will be made available for those aged 65 and older that want to make changes and live along the wildland-urban interface (WUI) — where development meets nature.

"FireSmart ambassadors visited neighbourhoods in the WUI areas in the fall of 2021 and provided over 7,000 residents direct-to-door information on wildfire preparedness and information to book fire safety assessments," said Young in a news release.

"Property owners play an important role in reducing the risk to their homes and neighbourhoods by taking steps such as removing potential fuel sources and choosing fire-resistant building materials. The program goal is to help homeowners to adopt practices that reduce the risk of wildfire damage to their homes and property."

In 2021, four communities that make up the Tri-Cities' northeast sector received a grant of nearly $500,000 to develop a sub-regional approach to wildfire prevention, including Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Anmore and Belcarra.

This included the creation of FireSmart educator jobs that have since run programs focused on outreach and facilitating hazard assessments.

FireSmart reps are scheduled to offer an in-person session for interested residents that are considering updating their homes to mitigate potential wildfire damage on Friday (July 29) in Mundy Park's Chilko parking lot — from 2:30 to 4 p.m.

WUI homeowners can book an assessment up until Sept. 1 and have until Sept. 30 to complete upgrades.

Oct. 31 is the last day for the home to be evaluated before seniors can receive any grant funding.

For more information on FireSmart assessments, you're encouraged to visit the City of Coquitlam's website.

A map is also available on Coquitlam's Northeast Sector page if residents are unsure if their home is located in a classified wildland-urban interface area.