The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen has hired a new FireSmart coordinator. (Black Press file photo)

The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen has hired a new FireSmart coordinator. (Black Press file photo)

FireSmart coordinator named for Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen

Kerry Riess will provide assistance to mitigate potential wildfire hazards

The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen has hired a new FireSmart coordinator.

Kerry Reiss will develop and implement FireSmart activities in all nine electoral areas within the regional district.

Reiss has 12 years of experience with the BC Wildfire Service as an initial attack crew leader, unit crew leader and fire protection assistant. Officials with the regional district say his past experience in emergency operations and firefighting will help with the FireSmart program.

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“With continued wildfire risks and recent events such as the 2020 Christie Mountain wildfire and 2019 Gallagher Lake wildfire, provincial funding for a full-time FireSmart coordinator will provide property owners with resource information and opportunities to mitigate potential wildfire hazards within their community,” a regional district news release states.

The regional district has received a grant of $600,000 from the FireSmart Community Funding and Supports program and $120,000 through the FireSmart Economic Recovery Fund. Both grants are administered by the Union of BC Municipalities as part of the Community Resiliency Investment program.

The Community Resiliency Investment initiative is a program to reduce the risks and impacts of wildfires through community education, vegetation management, legislation and planning, development a considerations, inter-agency cooperation, cross-training and emergency planning.

Reiss will support the regional district with the planning and coordination of community chipping events, FireSmart community events, neighbourhood FireSmart assessments, rebate programs, fuel treatments and other initiatives to promote FireSmart within the regional district.

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