Be fire smart
FireSmart is a nationwide program designed by firefighting agencies and Parks Canada to help protect people, infrastructure and surrounding lands from wildfire. Individual homeowners and wider communities can take simple steps to reduce the impact of wildfire. The time to reduce the threat of wildfire is now, not when a fire is at your doorstep. Be proactive, be practical, and be FireSmart.
Think about lighting a fire in your fire place. For best results, you start with newspaper, then add kindling and maybe a medium-sized piece of wood or two. In a wildfire, collections of dead grass, or pine and spruce needles serve the same purpose as newspaper and kindling.
Clear fuel concentrations from around your home.
Remove dead fuels like grass, pine and spruce needles, and branches from around walls, fences, propane tanks and barbeques. Store firewood a minimum of 10 metres away from any building.
Clear gutters, eaves and vents of collected materials.
In a wildfire, the fewer combustibles a home has around the roof, the better. Ensure your roof is free of needles and leaves, and there are no overhanging trees or branches that can catch on fire.
Keep your windows clear.
Windows let heat in (or out, in the winter). Clear vegetation at least 3 metres (10 feet) away from your windows. In a wildfire, unshuttered windows let the heat in and can contribute significantly to your possessions catching on fire. If you don’t have premade shutters, it is easiest to clear vegetation away from the windows.
Trim your trees.
If the trees in your yard have branches that reach the ground (like spruce), trim those branches to a height of 2 to 3 metres (6 to 10 feet). Clear any burnable materials from around the base of your trees.
Keep your porch/deck clear or screened.
The space under a deck makes for a great storage area. Unless it is sealed against sparks, that storage space will collect sparks during a wildfire. In the spring, screen in your deck or clear away all burnable fuels.
Screen or seal all soffits.
This is for the same reason as screening your deck. Unfortunately, it is not feasible to clear out all the burnable materials from the soffits. The only real option is to screen them.
Take care of your lawn. Keep your spinklers handy.
A short and green lawn can help create a fire break around your home. This is made more effective with the addition of a few lawn sprinklers and a sprinkler that can be placed on the roof. Sprinklers can increase the relative humidity around your home and decrease the fuel available for ignition.
Learn how to assess your property.
The FireSmart manual includes a homeowner assessment process. This will give you an idea of how to protect your property over the long term.