Free FireSmart assessments are being offered by the city ahead of a potentially busy wildfire season.
Last year’s heat dome and multiple fires have made making homes FireSmart more important with some residents being more concerned, according to regional district FireSmart coordinator Marc Albert.
“It’s so unpredictable, but the overall trends are that fire seasons are getting longer with more extreme events,” said Albert. “The people who are contacting me are concerned about fire and the risk.”
He says the assessments have allowed for other homes to be ready for fires that perhaps they wouldn’t have had as much of a chance of surviving. The assessments also help information gathering about the city’s fire preparedness.
“The assessments help bring awareness to what the risks are to someone’s home from wildfire,” he said. “When we’re on site then we can help prioritize, it’s like ‘there’s a lot of things to do and if we work on this it will give you the best outcomes for your efforts.’”
He says they begin by looking at the homes themselves. This may include what the roof is made of, debris and fuels on the ground leading up to the house and if there is wood being stored underneath a porch.
The shrubbery around the home can be a concern as well. Albert said small coniferous trees are quite flammable and “risky” to have around the home.
He says if the home borders wildland, looking at the forest is one step they take to improve the odds.
“We look at the forest and how to do a fuel treatment, essentially trying to reduce the risk of fire entering the canopy. We’re trying to keep the fire on the ground where it’s easier for firefighters to fight and control,” he said. “We’re removing the smaller surface fuels, removing ladder fuels which are branches and other higher things, or lower limbs on coniferous species.”
He says keeping the fire low down and trimming shorter trees can help prevent the fire from spreading. Albert adds it’s never too late to start prepping for fire season, even if you only do one thing to prevent fire damage.
“Small steps can matter. Even if you kind of just pick one and work away at it, that might actually be the thing that prevented your home from being burnt,” he added.
The city says residents can receive up to $500 in rebates for implementing some changes.
More information can be found on the FireSmart website.