Fire smart your property

With communities built in interface areas it’s a recommended to have a buffer zone around your house: Brent Penner, LCFD

  • Jul. 17, 2015 4:00 p.m.

As the fire season continues in B.C. and crews continue to battle blazes right across the province, it’s imperative on residents living in interface areas to make sure their homes are protected from wildfire.

Communities in the Central Okanagan, like many parts of B.C., are located in the middle of the forest.

These are the interface areas and Lake Country deputy fire chief Brent Penner says residents can help avoid a situation where their home is in danger.

“With communities built in interface areas it’s a recommended good practice to have a buffer zone around your house,” said Penner.

“It’s like a fire break. If there is a ground fire we can deal with that but that can lead to the trees and the fire goes from the ground up the tree and the tree can candle and create a huge amount of energy.

“Sometimes you can have a fire that will actually run on the canopy of the tree tops.”

Wildland forest fires are capable of spreading at an astonishing rate, often moving at up to 5.5 kilometres per hour, with spotting as far as two kilometres ahead.

Wind-blown grass fires can spread at speeds up to 8.5 kilometres per hour.

Over the last 10 years, on average more than 2,500 wildfires were started in British Columbia each year consuming over 25,000 hectares of forested land annually.

If you live in or near a forested region of our province, sooner or later you may have to contend with the spread of a wildfire. The best protection against loss, damage or injury due to wildfire is prevention.

Here are some steps to take as outlined in the B.C. Firesmart manual for homeowners.

• Any kind of vegetation is combustible. Mature trees, shrubs, grass, even your woodpile, are all potential fuels and can easily ignite (increasing the chance of building ignition and loss.) Managing the space around your house and buildings is of prime importance Do you have a cleared zone around your house and buildings?

The first 10 metres of space around your home is your first priority. It’s the most critical area to consider for fire protection. A good fuel-free space gives firefighters a chance to save your home from an advancing fire. A home without a good fuel-free space around it can make firefighting difficult, if not impossible.

What to do?

Remove any shrubs, trees, deadfall or woodpiles from this area and keep your grass mowed and watered.

• From 10 to 30 metres out from your home is the second priority zone. In this zone, you need to reduce fuels by thinning and pruning so that combustion cannot be supported.

What to do?

Remove trees and debris that can spread fire upwards to become a fast spreading crown fire. Space trees so that the crowns of individual trees are three to six metres apart.

Remove or reduce the number of evergreen trees in the area. Evergreens such as pine and spruce are much more combustible than deciduous trees. In fact, aspen, poplar and birch all have very low flammability rates.

• The third priority zone begins 30 metres from any structure and extends to a distance of 100 metres and beyond. The idea here is not to remove all combustible fuels from the forest, but to thin the area so fires will be of low intensity and more easily extinguished.

Download the Fire Smart B.C. homeowner PDF at


Just Posted

Vancouver artist rocks to fight opioid crisis

Jeremy Allingham is set to bring his guitar-focused rock ‘n roll to Kelowna April 6, Vernon June 9

World Down Syndrome Day: The up side of Down

A Kelowna family’s journey with Down Syndrome: ‘There is tremendous beauty in these kids’

Kelowna cops crack down on drivers using cell phones

Drivers caught talking or texting behind the wheel now face a fine totalling $543

Okanagan Falls winery showing international photo project

Liquidity Wines will be sole Canadian show of National Geographic’s Photo Ark

West Kelowna mayor meets finance minister to protest speculation tax

Doug Findlater presents Carole James with booklet of info outlining tax’s impact on his city

Crook’s Corner

Arts and entertainment highlights this week across the Okanagan

B.C. Scientists witness first-ever documented killer whale infanticide

“It’s horrifying and fascinating at the same time.”

Lawyer for one suspect in beating of man with autism says he’s not guilty

Ronjot Singh Dhami will turn himself in, lawyer said

Liberals awarded $100,000 contract to man at centre of Facebook data controversy

Christopher Wylie says his voter-profiling company collected private information from 50 million Facebook users

Facebook’s Zuckerberg admits mistakes in privacy scandal

Zuckerberg admits to privacy scandal involving a Trump-connected data-mining firm, but no apology

Rockets’ Foote a finalist for top WHL D-man

Cal Foote named the Western Conference top defenseman; Foote and Dube named all-stars

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

UPDATE: Former B.C. city councillor sentenced nine months for sexual assault

Dave Murray, convicted this past fall, hired a private investigator to intrude on the victim’s life.

Shots fired in Kamloops

Kamloops RCMP are investigating a report of shots fired and a possible explosion at a trailer court

Most Read