The following sections outline information regarding BC Fuel Hazard Assessment & Abatement. This information has been adopted from A Guide to Fuel Hazard Assessment and Abatement in British Columbia (2012).
The Wildfire Act is the governing legislation in British Columbia created specifically for wildfire protection. The Act stipulates that hazard assessments and abatement must be carried out. Section 7 of the Wildfire Act requires a person conducting an industrial or a prescribed activity on forest or grass lands, or within one kilometer of forest or grass lands, to conduct fuel hazard assessments. When an assessment identifies that a fuel hazard is present, abatement must take place within a time frame, and to a level specified by the assessment.
The Wildfire Regulation draws its authority from the Wildfire Act and implements and interprets the Wildfire Act. The Wildfire Act and Regulation are intended to be results-based and incorporate the concept of professional reliance.
Section 11 and section 12 of the Wildfire Regulation sets out the prescribed activities and the circumstances where fuel hazards created by an industrial or prescribed activity must be abated. These sections also define the time limits and abatement levels that must be followed for both interface and non-interface areas. Interface areas are required to be assessed in shorter time periods than that of the non-interface areas, because of the higher values at risk. Time limits to abate fuel hazards for interface areas are also shorter, to recognize the higher threat to human life, dwellings and infrastructure than in non-interface areas.
A fuel hazard is defined as the potential fire behavior, without regard to the state of weather or topography; it is based solely on physical fuel characteristics, including fuel arrangement, fuel load, condition of herbaceous vegetation and the presence of ladder fuels (section 1; Wildfire Regulation).
A fuel hazard assessment is the exercise of analyzing the ignition potential and predictable fire behavior based on the physical fuel characteristics, site-specific arrangements (i.e., topography and fuel type), and probable weather conditions. An assessment considers the risk of a fire starting, the difficulty of controlling the fire, and the potential impact on identified values.
Fuel hazard abatement is the process of reducing the ignition potential or fire behavior by physically reducing the fuel hazard after an industrial activity or prescribed activity has taken place. A person is required to abate all identified fuel hazards if the hazard has been created or increased by the industrial or prescribed activity.
A person who conducts an industrial or prescribed activity must ensure that the activity does not increase the risk of a fire starting on the site. If a fire were to start, the activity must not increase the fire behavior, or the fire suppression requirements associated with the fire. This can often be accomplished through fuel hazard reduction. Qualified holders may rely on a forest professional to incorporate into a strategy, procedure or hazard assessment the levels of fuel abatement or other measures necessary to reduce the fuel hazard below critical threshold levels.
The BC Wildfire Service (BCWS) recognizes that in some timber harvesting circumstances, it will be impracticable to reduce fuel loads sufficiently so that potential fire behaviour is not increased relative to pre-harvest conditions. Therefore, BCWS expects that fuel loads will be reduced or minimized, either: (1) to the extent practicable; (2) to the fuel thresholds set out in the fire risk table; or, (3) in the case of a qualified holder, to levels specified by a forest professional in consideration of the relevant factors contributing to fire hazard and abatement success. Where abatement measures are not practicable and have not been specified by a forest professional, a person may have to seek an exemption from the local fire centre under sections 25 or 26 of the Wildfire Regulation.
We implement fuel hazard assessment sampling protocols and designs that are efficient and scientifically robust. Two trained technicians can sample a 40ha treatment area in one day. Please inquire for consultation rates and other details.
We conduct field sampling, in addition to data processing and analysis. Greg completes treatment areas at an approx. rate of 20 ha per day, depending on site location and sampling intensity. We charge a flat rate per hectare for field sampling. We charge a flat rate per hectare for data processing and analysis. Please inquire for details.
We have developed a customized GIS tool, Ignis, to model the surface fire rate of spread and surface fire intensity, in addition to the maximum fuel load threshold for any Canadian Forest Fire Behavior Prediction System fuel type. All we require is an elevation dataset (e.g., raster or ascii). We charge a base rate for <=50, and a flat rate per hectare thereafter for modelling. Please inquire for details.
We offer one day training sessions for interested parties, up to six people at a time. We also provide consultation in any aspect of the fuel hazard assessment process. Please inquire for details.