Assessing your home and property
By Kelly Kitsch, Registered Forest Technologist
Mission is fortunate to be a community surrounded by beautiful forests, which has made some of our neighbourhoods such desirable places to live. However, as we have seen in recent years, wildland/urban interface areas have a potential to be at risk from wildfires. Interface areas are those where private properties are scattered amongst or adjacent to natural settings and forested landscapes. These properties are mainly larger than an urban subdivision lot and sometimes also contain forests or natural features.
How does fire threaten the wildlife/urban interface? Fire problems stem from two different sources of fire and their impact on the community: wildfires that start in the forest and spread into the community, or fires that start on private property and spread into adjacent forested areas.
What can be done? Fire is a natural element and plays a valuable role in our forest ecosystems and it can never be eliminated entirely, however there are a series of steps an interface homeowner can do to lower the risk of fire damage to their homes and properties. The FireSmart Canada www.firesmartcanada.ca/ provides a wealth of resources to complete home structure and site hazard assessments. There are recommendations for roofing and siding, decking and windows, as well as considerations you can make for clearing of trees and vegetation in a 30m zone around your home.
For example, in the first 10 metres from your home, the main objective is to create an environment that will not support fire, by removing flammable trees, branches and other fuels. Annually maintain roofs, gutters and other areas where dry leaves and needles collect (like underneath wooden porches). In the next 10-30 metres from your home, manage fuels that will only support fires of low intensity and rate of spread (keep only trees with low flammability, thin forests, prune low branches, remove underbrush). In the area 30-100 metres from your home, create an environment that will not support high-intensity crown fires, by keeping deciduous or mixed wood forests, reducing density of trees, and continual maintenance.
As more nice weather comes our way in the coming months, why not assess your property?
If you spot smoke or a forest fire in the municipal forest, call 911 or *5555 on your cell and report the location immediately.