Photo Credit: FireSmart Canada

Homeowners urged to protect properties from wildfire

Sunday, May 3, 2020 6:22:00 PM

- Coalition of non-profits, provincial/territorial governments and The Co-operators support Canada-wide action to make properties and communities FireSmart®. -

While Canadians are doing things differently this spring and summer, the threat of wildfire is constant.

FireSmart Canada and its partners will recognize Wildfire Community Preparedness Day on May 2, through social media and other platforms.

But instead of hosting neighbourhood clean-ups, we encourage property owners to protect themselves from wildfire by adopting FireSmart activities at home, such as clearing dead or combustible vegetation, implementing wildfire-resilient landscaping, and using fire-resistant roofing materials. (See additional tips and resources below.)

May 2 is the fifth anniversary of national Wildfire Community Preparedness Day, on which communities would normally participate in neighbourhood efforts to reduce risk to homes and environments in anticipation of wildfire season.

This year, the program has identified 160 successful applicants, but due to physical distancing measures, activities look a bit different.

When it is safe to do so, the successful applicants will receive $500 to support Wildfire Community Preparedness Day events through a national program offered by FireSmart® Canada in collaboration with The Co-operators, National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR) and the provinces/territories of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and the Northwest Territories.

"We created the annual Wildfire Preparedness Day campaign to rally people around the cause of wildfire safety and to turn ideas into actions that can make a difference" says Ray Ault, executive director of FireSmart® Canada. "The global public-health emergency prevents us from carrying out plans or group activities on May 2, but it still allows individual homeowners to take precautionary measures to reduce the wildfire risk around their homes and property".

Until in-person events can be held, fire departments, community groups and all other Canadians are encouraged to adopt FireSmart® activities at home.

Lisa Guglietti, executive vice-president and chief operations officer, The Co-operators, says it's critical that wildfire awareness and prevention efforts remain robust.

"Despite transitioning to our current reality that includes physical distancing, wildfire risk continues to be a serious threat across the country," Guglietti says. "Wildfire seasons are lasting longer and are more intense and Canadians and our communities are increasingly realizing the financial, social and emotional impacts of these events. Together with governments, insurers and all Canadians we need to continue our co-ordinated mitigation efforts to design and maintain resilient communities."

FireSmart activities for home / property owners:

- View the FireSmart Begins at Home manual online for free.
- Upload the FireSmart Begins at Home app and complete a home assessment.
- Rake and remove dry leaves and other debris within a minimum of 1.5 metres of a home's foundation. As time permits, continue up to a 10-metre distance around the home. Dispose of collected debris in appropriate trash receptacles.
- Clean debris from the roof and gutters, and pay attention to maintaining 1.5 metre non-combustible zone.
- Get out a measuring tape and see how close wood piles are located to the home; if closer than 10 metres, move at least 10 metres away from structures.
- Sweep porches and decks, clearing them of leaves and other combustible debris. Rake under decks, porches, sheds and play structures.
- Mow grass to a height of 10 centimetres or less.
- Remove items stored under decks and porches and relocate them to a storage shed, garage, or basement. Gasoline cans and portable propane tanks should never be stored indoors and should be located away from the home.

SOURCE: FireSmart Canada