Fire Safety

Summary of Findings / Recommendations

Recommendations for Wildfire Hazard Reduction have been prepared by BA Blackwell & Associates for the proposed Galloway Lands development. The assessment completed reviewed a range of FireSmart strategies for the property including:

  • Building Envelope and Construction Materials
  • Vegetation and Fuel Management Strategies (defensible space and landscaping)
  • Water and Power Supply
  • Sprinkler Systems
  • Road Network (access and egress, on-property roads, trail management, individual property access)
  • Critical Infrastructure

The assessment makes a series of recommendations that would be good practice for all new development within the RDEK and will be part of the development of the Galloway Lands.

The objective of the recommendations is to:

  • Reduce the vulnerability of the buildings to wildfire using FireSmart compliant materials.
  • Reduce fuels within 100m FireSmart Priority Zones around the buildings.
  • Increase the availability of water supplies and their availability to fire fighters.
  • Utilization of sprinkler systems when water supply is scarce.
  • Facilitate evacuation of residents from the area and accessibility to firefighters during wildfire.

The wildfire hazard covenant currently utilized in many parts of the RDEK (and to which the proponent has committed to registering on the Galloway Lands) already addresses using FireSmart compliant building materials and reduction of fuel load around residential buildings. Additional recommendations can be added to the Wildfire Hazard Covenant as required by the RDEK. 

Fire flow for fire suppression with hydrants at suitable locations will be throughout the development.  The hydrant locations and system details will be determined by the appropriate experts. The fire flow suppression may be achievable by connecting to the water supply from Fernie Alpine Resort Utility Company, or alternatively, from a system to be constructed on the Galloway Lands.

A secondary emergency vehicle access (SEVA) to allow for simultaneous access for emergency equipment and evacuation of people. This route will be constructed to the standards required by MOTI and local fire authority and will provide emergency egress from the Galloway Lands and Fernie Alpine Resort as well as emergency access for fire department and other emergency responders.

The Statutory Building Scheme registered on each building lot will require:

  • All buildings within the Galloway Lands to install external irrigation systems on the roof of the building to provide fire protection in the event of an interface forest fire.
  • Landscaping that is consistent with and promotes FireSmart principles.
  • Installation of a monument with a light and civic address at the end of each residential driveway.

The proponent will meet all recommendations of the report prepared by BA Blackwell & Associates. These recommendations exceed the normal requirements of the RDEK with within areas where a Wildfire Hazard development permit is required. The proponent will also register a Wildfire Hazard covenant over the property consistent with the requirements of the RDEK.

Questions and Answers

We have committed to answering all the submitted questions.  Some of the questions submitted are very similar in substance.  We have aggregated those questions and provided the answers in the summary below:

1. How will fire protection be provided?

The development plan in the City of Fernie typically provides fire protection for the rural areas around Fernie (including this property) based on an agreement with the RDEK. We will work with the RDEK and the City of Fernie fire department to ensure that the development is properly designed and aligns with the agreement before subdivision is approved.

We have also agreed to the registration of a Wildfire Covenant on the property. This covenant requires buildings use certain non-combustible materials and the implementation of FireSmart best practices on the lots in the areas near the home sites.

2. Two real concerns need to be addressed in regard to fire and life safety:

  • Servicing 75 properties with no water supply for fire suppression. …we would need to shuttle water to emergency scene from hydrant (Boomerang way) on ski hill
  • Road access/egress to and from this development

The development plan includes the establishment of a water supply that can be used to fight fires. Seasonal ponds or cisterns will be located on site with the specific intent of providing additional supply for firefighting purposes. In addition to that, each house will be fitted with a rooftop sprinkler system that will operate off of the well for that house.

Also included as part of the development plan is a secondary emergency access/egress from Highway #3. This is a permanent road that can be used by residents of both the Galloway lands and Fernie Alpine Resort in the event of an emergency.

3. Following the 2003 Kelowna wildfires the BC Government commissioned a report to determine what could be done to reduce the fire threat in the province. Since that time BC wildfires have significantly increased in severity and frequency.  The report chaired by Gary Filmon concluded “There is no doubt in my mind that, whether it is due to global climate change or natural weather cycle, B.C. communities that build up near forests will face increasing threats of fires. They must do everything possible to restore the forests to good health and plan the design of their communities and the construction of their homes and properties to minimize the inevitable fires in the future.”   Isn’t the construction of a residential development without a central water system with hydrants for fire suppression irresponsible?  Doesn’t it unnecessarily increase fire risk for the entire Elk Valley?

The development plan includes the establishment of firefighting water supply. We have also commissioned a report from B. A. Blackwell & Associates to provide recommendations aimed at increasing the resilience of the area to wildfire. The recommendations cover a variety of topics including FireSmart guidelines for building materials, access/egress routes, water availability/accessibility and sprinkler systems for individual homes.

4. Will this development increase the wildfire risk to adjacent properties?

Regardless of whether or not there is development on these lands, there is a wildfire risk by virtue of the fact that there is a forest. The development of these lands presents an opportunity to introduce fire breaks, manage fuels, improve road access and access to water for firefighting on the site.  These changes and the implementation of FIreSmart guidelines on the homesites will create a safe and manageable fire scenario on the Galloway lands.

Questions and Answers

Conservancy

Read the Summary and Recommendations and Questions and Answers here…

Fire Safety

Read the Summary and Recommendations, and Questions and Answers here…