2023 Sicamous FireSmart Season

Posted On: Oct 05, 2023

Travis Lansing, FireSmart Coordinator
Travis Lansing, FireSmart Coordinator

2023 FireSmart Season

At the beginning of 2023, the Sicamous Fire Department received a FireSmart Community Funding and Support Program grant of $178,000 to hire a full-time FireSmart coordinator and four FireSmart ambassadors. As winter approaches and the FireSmart program begins to wind down, the District would like to acknowledge the season' successes achieved and challenges overcome.

This year's FireSmart program demonstrated an increased focus on community engagement. The team attended a variety of community events including Canada Day, Downtown Fridays and Family Fun Day, where they set up a foam pit. Their greatest success came from going door-to-door offering walkthroughs. By the end of the season, there were over 60 walkthrough sign-ups!

Based on feedback from the community, UBCM and FireSmart B.C. intend to reintroduce yard work to next year's FireSmart program. This will allow the FireSmart team to complete yardwork for seniors and vulnerable community members. Because Sicamous has been identified as a high-risk wildfire community, FireSmart grant funding no longer requires an application. Moving forward, theĀ  funding provided to the Sicamous FireSmart program will be awarded in a two-year cycle, allowing the team to plan for long-term projects.

When asked about barriers and challenges faced by the FireSmart crew this summer, FireSmart coordinator Travis Lansing explained that unpredictable deployments made it harder to plan the program.

"The biggest barrier was the wildfire season being so crazy," said Lansing. "The fire chief was pulled to action early in the season, which created some challenges. I went on deployment myself for about three weeks in total, alongside other members of the team."

Planning is already underway for the next FireSmart season. Lansing will be working with the fire department year-round and is excited to transform feedback from 2023 into an effective program for next summer.

"We will take what went the best with engaging the community and skip what wasn't effective. It's all about focusing on what worked," shared Lansing.

Another big change coming next FireSmart season will be the inclusion of community greenspaces in the team's mission. Areas such as the 97A walking path will mitigated to decrease risks of wildfire.

"Let's continue doing the most we can to improve our community's resilience," Lansing encouraged.

The Sicamous FireSmart crew is most active from late spring to early fall; however, FireSmart coordinator Travis Lansing will be available year-round to provide support to residents regarding wildfire mitigation and prevention.

Travis Lansing, FireSmart Coordinator

Travis Lansing started his role as FireSmart coordinator in June of 2023 after two years of volunteering with the Sicamous Fire Department. Having recently left his job making spreadsheets, monitoring support que levels and managing a large team in the E-Commerce space, the FireSmart coordinator position jumped out at Lansing in what appeared to be "perfect timing."

"When I first moved to Sicamous, around four years ago, my wife encouraged me to volunteer for the fire department," Lansing shared. It wasn't until he watched the fire department in action responding to a chimney fire that he jumped right in.

Lansing has been on both the proactive and reactive sides of wildfire response. His experience fighting wildfires, especially in the summer of 2023, underscored the importance of wildfire mitigation. Lansing's experience volunteering with the fire department inspired him to help prevent wildfires from threatening Sicamous.

"It's a neat puzzle to try and convince people that wildfire mitigation is a thing worth thinking about and acting on," said Lansing, reflecting on his role in proactive wildfire mitigation.

Lansing emphasized that being FireSmart is a marathon. Preparing your property and community for the threat of a wildfire is not something that can be completed easily or quickly; rather, it is something that takes consistent effort and thought.

"My signing up to become a volunteer firefighter was a way of getting more engaged with the community," Lansing said. "My FireSmart coordinator role is a way of building on community engagement and connection. It's really nice to be able to connect with people around town."

Outside of his role at the fire department, Travis recently started mountain biking and enjoys exploring the trails towards Salmon Arm. When he isn't spending time on the trails or with his wife and three sons, Travis likes to play video games.

It's never too early to think about being FireSmart. Travis will be available year-round for walkthroughs and conversations about wildfire mitigation -- although it is easier to do a walkthrough when your property isn't covered in snow!