What is FireSmart?
FireSmart is living with and managing for wildfire in our landscape. The science from previous fire seasons has afforded us the ability to identify guidelines that can best prepare homes and businesses for survival under a wildfire threat. These guidelines are broken down into FireSmart principles. The goal is to create a defensible space where embers are unlikely to cause small fires that will in turn catch the structure on fire.
Managing wildfire risk is a shared responsibility with all community members, however each might share that responsibility differently. Let’s consider the factors that specifically pertain to ALL residents, whether they are a renter or homeowner:
- Clear your roof and gutters of debris
- Remove combustible materials 10m (33ft) away from the home; consider: woodpiles, patio furniture, bbq’s, playground equipment & planters
- Landscape your yard; keep your grass watered (when possible) and cut short, remove overgrown vegetation
- Clear ladder fuels (low hanging branches) 2m (6.5ft) above ground
- Consider how your risk might be higher if set on a slope, or near green belts with thick, dense vegetation (you’re adherence to the guidelines may increase with more risk present)
For the homeowner, however, there are further considerations to be made:
- Choose fire resistive roofing materials; consider: metal, asphalt, clay & tile
- Choose non-combustible siding finishes; consider: stucco, brick, metal, hardieplank
- Choose non-combustible building materials for your balcony, deck or porch
- Close (where applicable) and screen openings, eaves and vents
- Replace single pane windows with tempered, thermal windows
- Ensure all exterior doors are fire rated and have good seals
- Consider the proximity of all sheds/outbuildings to you home and choose FireSmart building materials
- Choose fire resistive fencing or place a fire resistive break between your home and the fence line
- Increase the spacing of trees (up to 3m)
- Replace conifers with more fire resistive species (deciduous trees)
There are a number of FireSmart resources available for download that can guide the mitigation process, checkout the FireSmart webpage for Guide to Landscaping, FireSmart Around Your Home, and Begins At Home Manual.
Become a FireSmart Community Champion!
Passionate about protecting your community from the threat of wildfire? Merritt Fire Rescue is in need of more community representation to help promote and advocate for the use of FireSmart principles at the neighborhood level. Those interested receive free training and assistance to help prepare for the FireSmart Community Recognition Program process.
For more information, contact Krista Minar, Certified Wildfire Mitigation Specialist/LFR.