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Firesmart Your Property

Firesmart Your Property

As many of us who live in and around the Kamloops area are aware, wildfires and the fire season can be a difficult and often stressful time of year. The consequences of fires at our home and properties can be devastating. While we can’t stop Mother Nature, there are some things that we can do to lessen the risks of damage done to our properties. Many of which, have little to no cost.

Have you ever wondered how fires can spread so quickly? This is due to easy access to fuel to feed the fire. By removing the fuel from our homes and properties we can lessen the damage that can be inflicted.

Ways to Remove Fuel

  • Maintain and clean your roof. Be sure to remove any tree branches, needles and/or leaves that can build up on roofs and can lead to a fire from a wayward spark.
  • If you’re looking to build or are in the market for a new roof; consider materials that are fire resistant or fire retardant. These materials include but are not limited to metal, asphalt, clay, and composite rubber.
  • If you have a wooden shake roof, be sure to follow manufacturer guidelines on how to properly maintain and treat your roof.
  • Attic vents can allow embers from a fire to enter your attic. Wire mesh covers over the vents can help as can ensuring your soffits and fascia are properly fitted.
  • Be sure to keep gutters free of build up and debris.
  • Keep any woodpiles away from your home and not piled directly against your house, as this is a major fire hazard.
  • Keep fire pits and burn barrels tidy and situated as far as possible from any other structure. It is also recommended to keep any fuel for them at least three metres away.
  • Ensure that any and all power lines on your property are free from branches and any other vegetation. It is recommended that you speak with your local utility company before removing any vegetation from overhead electrical installations.
  • Maintain and tidy the exterior of your home and this should include any spaces where debris can pile up and be used as fuel from an impending fire. Under balconies and decks are specific places where debris can collect and create fuel. (The same consideration should be given to any and all out buildings on your property)
  • Maintain any trees on your property; be sure to remove leaf piles, old branches, and other tree debris that may clutter your yard. It’s important to remove any dead trees from your property as well. Be sure to contact as arborist or forester should you have any concerns regarding trees on your property
  • If available to you, consider a fire-resistant siding like stucco, metal, and fibre-cement board.

While maintaining our yards and removing any possible fuel sources is a great way to reduce fire risk at our homes and properties, we can also add to a lowered fire risk by the type of landscaping we have and the products that we use. Even the types of plants that we choose to grow can help mitigate our fire risk.

Who doesn’t love a nice yard with grass, trees, and flowerbeds? This is still easily achieved all while keeping your fire risk low.

Did you know that a lawn that is kept mowed (10 cm) and well watered is a fire resistant lawn? If water conservation is on our mind or watering your lawn consistently is not available to you, consider a xeriscape yard to reduce or even eliminate the need for irrigating. Any trees should be maintained and well pruned. It is best to plant leafy (deciduous) trees as they are more resistant to fire. If you have coniferous trees (trees with cones and needles), it is best to keep them at least three metres from each other and at least 10 metres from your home. Flowerbeds that are within 10 metres of your home should be mulched with gravel or decorative rock. These beds are neat and tidy and can significantly reduce the risk of fire spreading. Their bark or pine needle mulch counterparts are highly combustible in comparison.

Some trees and vegetation are better at helping mitigate your fire risk than others and include but are certainly not limited to:

  • Trees that are leafy (deciduous) including: poplar, birch, aspen, cottonwood, maple, alder, ash, and cherry.
  • Plants that have moist, supple leaves, accumulate a minimal amount of dead vegetation, and have little to no sap or resin. If sap is produced, it is water like.

Examples of these:

  • Geraniums
  • California lilac
  • Rockrose
  • Bush honeysuckles
  • Currants
  • Hostas

By ensuring our homes and yards are well maintained and tidy, we can limit the risk imposed by fires. And in turn hopefully ease the some of the stress and worry these events can trigger. If you have any further concerns or questions, remember local authorities and fire departments offer a plethora of resources and expertise at your disposal. And by us all being more fire aware, we can lower the risks for everyone in our communities.