Wildfire Prevention Engineering

Wildland Urban Interface is a popular term used to describe an area where various structures (most notably private homes) and other human developments meet or are intermingled with forest and other vegetative fuel types.

Simply put, Wildland Urban Interface is where the urban lifestyle meets the forested area.

In forest fire terms, any vegetative type (forest or grassland) is a potential fuel source that can pose a serious risk to human life and property in this "interface zone." By choosing to extend our lifestyle and communities further into forested areas, we become more exposed to the danger of wildfire.

However, you are not helpless against the threat of wildfire. You can:

  • Increase your level of awareness
  • Increase your level of preparation
  • Reduce your risk to wildfire

Discover ways to make you and your property "FireSmart"!

Components of the Wildland Urban Interface

Through partnerships, you can achieve your goals in a more effective and timely manner. For example, your neighbour, community association, local industries, local municipal government, municipal fire department, local advisory committees and local Forest Area staff can all be involved.

This idea of partnership is central to each component or discipline comprising the wildland urban interface. These seven main FireSmart disciplines, described below, need to be addressed to effectively combat the threat of wildfire.

  1. Vegetation Management

    Manage the vegetation in and around your property to lessen the risk of wildfire. This can be accomplished by:

    • Thinning and pruning
    • Removing volatile trees such as spruce and planting fire-resistant species such as aspen (species conversion)
    • The construction of fuel breaks
    • General cleanup in and around your property
  2. Public Education

    Effectively communicate to people living in forested areas the need to be aware of the wildfire threat and to take action in having their property and community become "FireSmart."

  3. Legislation

    Review the existing legislation both provincially and within the local municipal government.

    • Is it effective and being adhered to?
    • Are changes and updates required to fit the need of preventing and actioning a wildfire scenario?
  4. Development

    • Is the construction of new homes or subdivisions being developed in a "FireSmart" manner?
    • Assess the infrastructure as it relates to roadway access, water supply, utilities placement, building materials and design, and forested areas adjacent and within the community.
  5. Planning

    • Emergency procedures and response plans in place to meet the threat from a wildfire scenario. This preparedness occurs at all levels—from the homeowner to the fire agencies involved.
    • Adapting existing developments to be "FireSmart."
    • Determining the values at risk and building an appropriate preparedness plan.
  6. Cross-Training

    • Cross-training is in place for the fire agencies involved in a suppression effort within the Wildland Urban Interface.
    • Between municipal fire departments and the wildland fire agency (Alberta Agriculture and Forestry), ensure that the equipment, communications and training courses are compatible to effectively action a wildfire scenario in the Wildland Urban Interface.
  7. Interagency Cooperation

    • Bring together all of the agencies that can be involved with the scenario of combating a wildfire in the interface area.
    • Cooperative agreements, partnerships, initiatives, linked emergency plans and assigned commitments and responsibilities are in place and reviewed.


Updated: Sep 5, 2017