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Canadians making communities safer today as part of first National Wildfire Community Preparedness Day

May 2, 2015
7:00am

BRESLAU, ON, May 2, 2015 /CNW/ - Today, Canadians are making their communities safer as they participate in the first National Wildfire Preparedness Day in Canada. Twenty-four groups across the country received funding to support local mitigation projects aimed at reducing the risk of wildfire damage in their communities. People of all ages are invited to come out and participate in the effort.

"We are excited to have people across Canada learning about wildland urban interface, and the role we all play in creating wildfire resilient communities," says Kelly Johnston, Executive Director of Partners in Protection. "We hope that today's inaugural Canadian National Wildfire Community Preparedness Day will be the start of a growing annual event that builds awareness and education, and ultimately reduces the threat of wildfires in Canada."

"We're pleased to work with our partners to educate and raise awareness around mitigating the risk of wildfires across the country," said Kathy Bardswick, President and CEO of The Co-operators. "It takes a real community effort to build resilience to this sort of risk, and that's exactly what's taking place in dozens of communities today."

"It is wonderful that FireSmart Canada and its partners are supporting volunteers across the country that are taking action ‎to make their communities safer and more resilient to damage from wildfire," noted Paul Kovacs, Executive Director of the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction at Western University.

"The National Fire Protection Association's (NFPA) Wildland Fire Operations Division is dedicated to helping protect people and property in communities at risk from wildfire through advocacy, outreach and education" said Shayne Mintz, Canadian Regional Director of the NFPA. "Fire science research has shown that community engagement and individual action ahead of time can reduce property loss and human suffering from wildfires. As the founder of Wildfire Community Preparedness in the USA, the NFPA is excited to help bring this initiative to Canada!"

There are a variety of projects taking place today, which span from a short time commitment to an entire day, which are being undertaken by individuals, families and groups. Projects include hosting a chipping day, distributing wildfire safety information to neighbours, organizing brush clean-up and more.

The National Launch for Wildfire Community Preparedness Day will be hosted in Breslau in the Township of Woolwich, Ontario. "Our Township is honoured to host the Canadian National Launch for Wildfire Community Preparedness Day in Breslau today," said Sandy Shantz, Mayor, Township of Woolwich. "Our volunteer firefighters do an outstanding job of ensuring the safety and well-being of residents throughout the Township. Through the assistance of the partnering organizations, this event will help to raise awareness of the dangers related to Wildfires, especially as it relates to rural areas such as Woolwich."

National Wildfire Community Preparedness Day events help raise awareness of wildfires, and bring residents of all ages together to work on projects to protect their homes, neighbourhoods and communities. FireSmart Canada in collaboration with the National Fire Protection Association, the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction, and The Co-operators are pleased to bring this first ever event to Canada. To learn more about the first National Wildfire Community Preparedness Day in Canada visit www.firesmartcanada.ca 

For a list of the groups participating in Wildfire Community Preparedness Day, please see the attached backgrounder.

About FireSmart Canada
FireSmart Canada (FireSmart) is the go-to national program committed to helping Canadians reduce their wildfire risk and become fire adapted through community-based solutions.  FireSmart is administered by Partners in Protection; a non-profit coalition of federal, provincial, first nations', private industry and municipal fire, emergency and land management experts. Through publications, programs, outreach training, and workshops, FireSmart provides tools for Canadians to become pro-active in reducing the risk of wildfire to their homes and communities. FireSmart programs and products are supported through membership and ongoing active support from organizations such as the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre, the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction, the National Fire Protection Association and The Co-operators. For more information on FireSmart visit www.firesmartcanada.ca .

About the National Fire Protection Association:
NFPA is a worldwide leader in fire, electrical, building, and life safety. The mission of the international nonprofit organization founded in 1896 is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating consensus codes and standards, research, training, and education. NFPA develops more than 300 codes and standards to minimize the possibility and effects of fire and other hazards. All NFPA codes and standards can be viewed at no cost at www.nfpa.org

About the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction:
Established in 1998 by Canada's property and casualty insurers, ICLR is an independent, not-for-profit research institute based in Toronto and at the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada. ICLR is a centre of excellence for disaster loss prevention research and education. ICLR's research staff is internationally recognized for pioneering work in a number of fields including wind and seismic engineering, atmospheric sciences, water resources engineering and economics. Multi-disciplined research is a foundation for ICLR's work to build communities more resilient to disasters. Visit www.iclr.org.

About The Co-operators:
The Co-operators Group Limited is a Canadian-owned co-operative with more than $37 billion in assets under administration. Through its group of companies it offers home, auto, life, group, travel, commercial and farm insurance, as well as investment products.  The Co-operators is well known for its community involvement and its commitment to sustainability. The Co-operators is listed among the 50 Best Employers in Canada by Aon Hewitt; Corporate Knights' Best 50 Corporate Citizens in Canada; and the Top 50 Socially Responsible Corporations in Canada by Sustainalytics and Maclean's magazine. For more information please visit www.cooperators.ca.

SOURCE The Co-operators

For further information: Kelly Johnston, RPF, Executive Director, Partners in Protection Association, 250-319-0494, execdirector@firesmartcanada.ca; Glenn McGillivray, Managing Director, Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction, 416-364 8677, gmcgillivray@iclr.org; Shayne Mintz, Canadian Regional Director, National Fire Protection Association, 705-812-2924, smintz@nfpa.org; Leonard Sharman, Senior Advisor, Media Relations, The Co-operators, 519-820-4133, leonard_sharman@cooperators.ca


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