CARP – West Carleton Disaster Relief (WCDR) is hoping to help prevent disasters as well as just respond to them.

The volunteer organization, a giant during West Carleton’s recent natural disasters, started publishing several brochures providing critical safety information on a number of topics last summer. The organization mailed them out to the West Carleton community hoping residents would keep them hand and follow the brochure’s advice.

On Feb. 20, the WCDR will host a virtual public meeting on a threat that has happened before in the community causing incredible destruction (The Great Fire), based on its brochure Wildfire Ready.

“As many of you know, WCDR did a large amount of research into fire safety in our area,” WCDR director Allan Joyner released in a statement Monday (Feb. 8). “It resulted in our Firesmart brochure that was delivered to all residents by mail. Our area was utterly devastated by a wildfire in 1870 and the same risks that caused it, exists today. The Carp Ridge fire behind Charlies Lane in May 2015 burned several acres and seriously threatened the village before being brought under control. The threat is real.”

While there are things individual homeowners can do to mitigate the risk to their homes as mentioned in the brochure, some factors are larger, and mitigating them would benefit from collective action across West Carleton.

“Our primary resource was the FireSmart Canada organization,” Joyner said. “The mandate for FireSmart is to reduce the risk that wildfires pose to populated areas by raising awareness through education.”

Their system is based on zones that spread out from your home and there are things you and the community can do to lower everyone’s individual risk and that to the wider community.

To maximize the benefits of the prevention and mitigation efforts, neighbours need to work together to tackle as many of the FireSmart recommendations as possible.

“The FireSmart Neighborhood Recognition Program was set up to help with this challenge,” Joyner said. “Neighbourhoods whose residents participate in this program engage in efforts to reduce their vulnerability to wildfires and increase their chances of surviving a wildfire. The successful completion of the program leads to the FireSmart Neighborhood Recognition.”

As an introduction to this process, in association with FireSmart, WCDR is holding an online information session for interested homeowners on Feb. 20, from 1 to 3 p.m. You can join on Zoom if you email the WCDR at WildFireReady@WestCarletonRelief.ca to receive the link.