**Updated** FireSmart Community Grants: making sure the lessons of Fire Prevention Week last the rest of the year

Update: a second round of applications for the FireSmart Community Grants has now opened – it will close on January 15th, 2014. 

Last week, we tweeted about National Fire Prevention Week – and so did lots of other people.

It’s amazing to see the variety of tips flying around for protecting communities, businesses, and the environment – but it’s not surprising.

Although we now have the technology available to fight fires better than ever before, even the most efficient firefighting response can’t always prevent damage. The only way to do that is to stop fires from starting in the first place. In this case, the old saying is true: an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure.

Photo of a forest fire in Alberta, May 2001

Improve your FireSmarts

That’s the logic behind our FireSmart program. You might think that while domestic fires are the result of human error, wildfires are largely out of our control – but a whopping 80% are caused by human activity. People are capable of greatly minimizing the danger to themselves and others if they have the right info and tools.

Thousands of businesses, community leaders, and ordinary Albertans take advantage of the program every year – and we try to make it as comprehensive as possible. But it’s almost impossible for us to meet the unique needs of all municipalities – and we can’t anticipate those needs nearly as well as the communities can themselves.

So we let municipalities design their own tools – and we provide them with the resources needed to make them a reality. Since 2005, our FireSmart Community Grant Program has distributed more than $3 million to communities across the province, and that money has been used in all kinds of ways – from public education to emergency planning – and beyond.

Here’s the scoop:

  • Grants of up to $50,000 are up for grabs.

    Map of Alberta's Forest Protection Area.

    Any municipality within the pink area is eligible for a FireSmart grant.

  • Any municipality, county, Métis Settlement, or registered non-profit community organization within the Forest Protection Area may apply for funding. (Registered non-profit societies must include their Corporate Access Number with the application).
  • Any project designed to help protect human lives and property from wildfires is eligible – but projects that tie in with FireSmart will be prioritized. Funding will only be provided for expenses directly related to the project.
  • Projects should not compete with any local private-sector initiatives.
  • Grant winners have two years to complete their projects.
  • The second round deadline for applications is 4:30pm on January 15th, 2014. (The first round ended in October).
  • Want to get started? Click here for full info and an application form.

Cool ideas and projects come from lots of places. If you represent a community, we obviously want to hear from you – but if you’re an ordinary Albertan with a good idea, we encourage you to contact your municipality and pitch it to them. If you’re not sure whether or not your idea is eligible, you can contact a Wildfire Prevention Officer for your area – they’ll be happy to answer all your questions.

Stay tuned for stories

Since 2005, the grant program has produced all kinds of success stories – and this year will be no different. In anticipation of a great new batch of applications, we’re going to be sharing some of those stories with you in the new year. If you know of a great initiative that has benefitted from FireSmart funding, we want to hear from you – on Twitter or in the comments. And if you don’t, stay tuned – we’ve got some stories for you.

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