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Foothills County Northwest Wildfire Mitigation Strategy
April 14, 2021
To read the full document, please click here
The Foothills County Northwest Wildfire Mitigation Strategy was developed to provide practical and operational wildland/urban interface risk mitigation strategies to reduce the threat of wildfire to development. This Wildfire Mitigation Strategy (WFMS) was developed using standardized FireSmart hazard assessment protocols and mitigation measures were developed based on the seven disciplines of wildland/urban interface approach and current research and knowledge in interface community protection.
The planning area includes lands within the northwest corner of Foothills County, east of the Forest Reserve boundary, south of the TsuuT’ina First Nation, west of Highway 22, and north of Highway 546. The area is primarily private lands with patches of municipal and provincial lands scattered throughout the planning area.
Wildfire hazard and risk assessment indicates that the potential for intense wildfire behaviour exists in the study area and the highest wildland/urban interface hazard is to structures with combustible exterior materials without adequate clearance from wildland fuels.
The majority of lands that present Moderate-High/Extreme wildfire behaviour potential to developed areas are privately-owned therefore, vegetation management conducted by residents and landowners on their private properties is the highest priority.
Fire Protection in Foothills County is comprised of many partners. These partners are required to service an area of over 1,400 square miles with a rural population of over 19,000 citizens. Each partner has been assigned a primary response area. Currently there are nine districts including the area served by Calgary Fire Halls.
The partnership consists of the Fire Departments from;
District 1 Foothills County Fire Department Longview station
District 2 Town of Turner Valley one station
District 3 Town of Black Diamond one station
District 4 Town of High River with two stations
District 5 Foothills County Fire Department Cayley station
District 6 Foothills County Fire Department Priddis station
District 7 Foothills County Fire Department Blackie station
District 8 Town of Okotoks with two stations
District 9 Foothills County Fire Department Heritage Pointe station
if there is an emergency,
please contact 911.
The stations within or assigned to the districts are dispatched first for most emergencies. The agreements with the Fire Departments allow assistance or Mutual Aid as required for larger calls. In addition the Foothills Fire Service has Mutual Aid agreements with the surrounding Municipal Districts to provide additional equipment and manpower when required. Of note is the Municipal District of Ranchland which has no fire protection and they have contracted with Foothills County to service a portion of their area. Response into the designated area is from District 1, Longview station. Alberta Sustainable Resources is responsible for wild land fire response into a small sliver in the South West corner of Foothills County, although the County is still responsible for any structural fires in that area within Foothills County municipal borders.
Emergency communication comes from FREMS Dispatch. The 9-1-1 Center is located in Black Diamond and receives the E-911 calls, then dispatches the required Station or Fire Department from that location.
There are approximately 150 municipal firefighters serving the area. Each station is comprised of volunteer fire fighters with some full time fire fighters in High River and Okotoks. These two communities offer minimal full time firefighter coverage 24 hours per day for an initial response such as medical assists but for any working fires would require volunteer or mutual aid response. These municipalities have recognized that they need a minimum of a seven member response to deal with any short term search and rescue capabilities for a structural fire. The same number would be required to safely operate on the highway for a vehicle rescue. Full time staff is not up to these staffing levels and there is still a reliance on volunteer fire firefighter to complete staffing for working emergencies. Current staffing allows for medial assist response which relieve volunteer staff from responding to these calls.
For information about wildfire: Alberta Sustainable Resource Development
Large Burn Piles
Until further notice burn permits will not be issued for burns of large proportions.
Foothills Fire Board and Council are currently reviewing the permit and processes to make necessary changes to accommodate those who wish to burn large piles.
All open fires require a burning permit prior to lighting. Burning Permits
The only exceptions are fires that are contained fires totally covered with a screen mesh that prevents the escape of sparks or combustible materials. These fire pits or burn barrels must also have a non combustible apron around the perimeter of at least 24" or 61cm.
Failure to comply may result in Fire Response charges and a fine for non compliance.
FireSmart Your Home
Firefighters need your help. Use these tips to PREPARE your home and PROTECT your family and pets. BEWARE of accidentally starting a wildfire!
Residential Recreational Fire Pit Guidelines for Hamlets
For further information, please contact the administrative offices at (403) 652-2341.