Whether living urban or rural, our home is our castle. To protect our castle, we need to be FireSmart.

We all know vegetation is combustible. That means trees, bushes, grass and even the woodpile can go up in flames. How do we avoid total or partial destruction by fire? There are a few things you can do.

Your first priority is the immediate space around your house, what is called an Ignition Zone, zero to 30 metres. By modifying or removing the combustibles, you reduce the risk. Thin or prune bushes and trees, and remove deadfall and woodpiles from this zone. Consider changing conifer trees to hardwood trees. Plant trees so there is plenty of space between them. This keeps their tops from touching which can give fire a path to travel. Zone two is 10 to 30 metres out from your house. Remove deadwood and overgrown brush and consider thinning or removing trees that may act as a “ladder” for fire. Zone three is 30 metres from any structure, and 100 metres and beyond from your house. Remove brush, deadwood and clean any combustibles. Vegetation should be well cleared from power lines, propane tanks and other fuel supplies.

Are the materials in your home FireSmart?

The most fire resistant roofing is metal, asphalt and ULC treated shakes. Untreated shakes and shingles provide no resistance to fire. To manage the spread of fire, ensure there are no overhanging branches or vegetation to provide fuel for a fire. Exterior walls made from stucco, metal, brick and concrete offer fire resistance. Wood and vinyl offer little protection. Tempered window glass has good resistance. Double or thermal pane windows provide moderate protection—single pane glass offers no protection.

Always have on hand shovels, rakes, garden hoses, sprinklers and a ladder to the roof to help suppress a wildfire.

Water and mow your lawn regularly, especially during the summer months. Keep trees 3 or 4 metres from your driveway. Make sure your chimney is working to code and is properly cleaned. Soot buildup can cause a chimney fire.

Wildfires are capable of spreading at upwards of 7 kilometres per hour. They can potentially send embers as far as 2 kilometres ahead of the fire. Factor in the wind, and fire can travel in excess of 10 kilometres per hour.

As a family, you can work together to be FireSmart. Make a plan, review the plan, know the plan. Keep emergency phone numbers for Fire Department and Police in a visible spot for all family members.

The Alberta government provides a good FireSmart Homeowner’s manual with helpful tips, hints and information.

Link to FireSmart Homeowner’s manual if hyperlink doesn’t work: