Collaborative Structural Defense Planning with Stl’atl’imx communities 

Dec 14, 2023

FNESS team and community member.

Photo submitted by Emerson Adolph.

In November, our team was graciously welcomed into six Northern Stl’atl’imx communities: Tsal’alh, Xwisten, Xaxl’ip, Ts’kw’aylaxw, T’it’q’et, and Sekw’el’was. Our objective? To collaborate with local experts and initiate the framework for a new community Structural Defense Plan (SDP).

The SDP acts as a repository, drawing insights from the community’s Fire Safety Assessment (FSA) and tapping into the wealth of knowledge held by community experts. It aspires to be not just comprehensive but also user-friendly—a guiding light essential for safeguarding against wildfires. Once finalized, this plan will play a pivotal role as communities partner with First Nations’ Emergency Services Society (FNESS) and BC Wildfire Service (BCWS) to swiftly deploy a Structure Protection Crew whenever the threat of a wildfire arises. Once deployed this crew will efficiently place sprinkler protection in and around the community’s infrastructure.

Lightship, a decision support tool, was utilized in the creation of the plan to capture and showcase:

  • Culturally significant areas in need of protection
  • Strategic placements for relay tanks and bladders
  • Ideal locations for portable pumps to support operations
  • Feasible areas for reactivating previously established fire guards

During these visits, Neill Moroz, Carmichael Howes, and Emerson Adolph from our FNESS team collaborated closely with these communities to craft this comprehensive plan. They commended the six Northern Stl’atl’imx communities for their proactive stance in community defense. The Emergency Program Coordinators (EPC’s) have worked hard to secure funding for programs that protect their community and bolster their fire departments capacity with respect to training and equipment.

Moreover, the FNESS team found immense encouragement witnessing homeowners in these communities actively participating in FireSmart™ Assessments. Implementing recommendations from these assessments significantly fortifies a home’s defense against wildfires. Making a home fire smart involves simple yet impactful measures, such as:

  • Relocating firewood and lumber 10 meters away from the house
  • Maintaining grass and weed height below 10 centimeters
  • Thoroughly clearing combustible material from beneath decks
  • Establishing a 1.5-meter non-combustible zone around the house and deck perimeter

Looking ahead:

These initial visits mark the beginning of FNESS’s endeavor to engage with all First Nation communities in BC for Structural Defense Planning. The proactive stance displayed by numerous communities is encouraging and inspiring.

If you’re interested in Structural Defense Planning, please contact the FNESS Decision Support Team via email at