The trend in BC is for more frequent and higher intensity wildfires. Five of the provinces worst fire seasons have taken place within the last 10 years. This in combination of extended fire seasons and changes in annual precipitation create a scenario where smoke and wildfires in the province are an annual reality.

Why you should FireSmart your property?

  • Every individual homeowner/property has a role to play in the overall resiliency of not only their own property but also that of their community. As we learn from past wildfire events and now able to witness forest fires entering communities in real time with live stream video’s and other media sources, wildfire scientists can confirm, up to 90% structure losses during a wildfire event are due to wind blown embers igniting receptive fuels and building components. Once a structure has ignited, a building-to-building combustion sequence can then occur with disastrous consequences. This can be effectively mitigated by individuals taking ownership of their own unique risk within their ‘Home Ignition Zones (HIZ)’.

How you can FireSmart your property?

  • You can start by addressing the most important and often the easiest FireSmart area of concern. The HIZ is comprised of 3 zones, decreasing in importance the further away you get from a structure. The most critical areas to begin introducing FireSmart guidance is on the structure itself and within the “Immediate Zone”.
  • When addressing the structure itself, look for areas where embers may accumulate and ignite building components or receptive fuels. These should be addressed before anything else. Inspect the structure for gaps, cracks, holes and crevasses and repair or replace these items/locations. Some examples are garage doors seals and door weather stripping, utility line entry holes in walls, single pane windows, broken vinyl or wall material, damaged soffits, or missing or damaged vents. The roof should be composed of a Class-A fire rated material such as metal, asphalt or composite shingles and in good condition (not chipped, curled or missing pieces).
  • Removing both fine fuels such as those that accumulate under decks, in doorways, stairwells or gutters as well as larger fuels such as lumber, or firewood stored adjacent to the house or under the deck are potential ignitions at these locations. It is very important to keep the immediate zone (0-1.5m / 5’) around a structure free of combustible materials. This includes anything made of wood, plastics, or textiles along with any vegetation; specifically those that are highly flammable such as decorative grasses, junipers, cedar shrubs and ornamental conifers.
  • For a detailed, customized, and tailored HIZ assessment of a structure and property, a Wildfire Mitigation Specialist, specifically trained to identify often overlooked vulnerabilities, can be contacted through the following link: Home Partners | FireSmart BC or via the RDCK’s/Municipal websites.
  • Some additional resources on understanding ones vulnerability to both wind blown embers and radiant heat of adjacent combustibles can be provided through some excellent Free online training on the FireSmart BC website as well as testimonials, reference materials contact information and much more Courses | FireSmart BC.

What are some specific non-combustible plants that can be near a foundation?

  • If vegetation must be retained around a structure, it should be properly maintained and of low flammability. Keeping appropriately selected plants spaced apart to limit any potential fuel continuity, if possible, remove the plants lower limbs to prevent embers from accumulating at their base potentially igniting the plant, as well as staying on top of removing any dead material such as leaves, sticks, bird nests or other flammable debris that is held within the structure of the plant. You can refer to the FireSmart BC Landscape Hub to identify what plants are not only FireSmart, but will also survive in your specific locations ‘hardiness zone’, here: Fire-Resistant Plants | FireSmart BC

Some great options of FireSmart ‘privacy vegetation’ to replace cedar hedge rows that are green all year (depending on their plant hardiness) are:

  • Portugese laurel (Prunus lusitanica), *NOT, English laurel (Prunus laureocerasus) an invasive species
  • California lilac (Ceanothus impressus ‘Victoria’)
  • Strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo)
  • Glossy abelia (Abelia x. grandiflora)
  • Fraser photinia (Photinia fraserii)
  • Privet (Ligustrum  ovafolium) and (Ligustrum vulgare)
  • Boxwood (Buxus sempervirens) and (Buxus microphylla)
  • Firethorn (Pyracantha angustifolia) ‘Orange Glow’
  • Japanese pieris (Pieris japonica)

What kind/size of sprinklers are beneficial on roof tops?

FireSmart BC does not endorse any one type or brand of home sprinklers and their application should never replace good FireSmart practices, despite their potential effectiveness. There are many considerations that should be understood when deploying personal sprinkler systems such as:

  • You must be home to engage them. Often times, a fire may initiate and move quickly, limiting the amount of time you may have to deploy and begin their use
  • Often homeowners will be evacuated well ahead of any wildfire risk, often even days in advance. Engaging sprinklers prior to evacuation may deplete local water resources required by response agencies well before the effects of a nearby wildfire impact the property if engaged prior to evacuating.
  • Often times water damage may occur on the structure due to improper placement and use

If installed, sprinklers should be placed above structures in such a manner that they cover the entire perimeter of the structure with spray patterns slightly overlapping. It is recommended to operate 45 minutes prior to the influence of a wildfire event for maximum efficiency. Contact your local fire department for more specifics and recommendations on personal sprinkler deployment.

Who does the Fire Smart FireSmart Home assessments in my area?

  • Trail/Beaver Valley/Rossland

RDKB Online Application: FireSmart Home Partners Property Assessment Application Form

  • Castlegar, Slocan Valley, Arrow Lakes, Nakusp, Salmo, Kootenay Lake, Balfour, Ainsworth, Kaslo, Lardeau Valley

RDCK Online Application: FireSmart Home Partners Property Assessment Application Form

RDCK FireSmart Program: 250-352-1539,

  • City of Nelson

Rob Leeland, FireSmart Coordinator. Phone: 250-352-8116

  • New Denver, Silverton, Village of Slocan

Slocan Integral Forestry Co-op (SIFCo). Phone: 250-226-7012

Joel Hamilton, Home Partners Program Provincial Coordinator

Fire Chiefs Association of BC | FireSmart BC