Temperatures are rising, and as it gets hotter, the risk of wildfire in the area also increases.
That’s why it’s important for homeowners to think about fire-proofing their homes as soon as possible.
Rick Euper is a fire and safety educator with the Kelowna Fire Department and he is encouraging Kelowna residents to work on making their homes up to FireSmart standards.
“The FireSmart program has been going on in Canada for a few years now. The program is designed to help people protect their homes from a wildfire,” he said.
“This is something that’s done long before a fire happens. Don’t expect that a wildfire starts today and you’ll have your house fire-proof tomorrow.”
When a FireSmart evaluation is done on a house, Euper said the first thing they look for is woodpiles, combustible materials on the roof, the deck, as well as the building’s sidings.
“We want to see Class A (roofs), which is considered non-combustible and that includes asphalt shingles and slate roofs,” he said. This way, when embers are carried by the wind from a wildfire site onto a house, the roof won’t actually catch fire and spread that fire.
Euper said they also want homeowners to think about are cedar hedges and other plants or vegetation they may have on their property.
“Choose better landscape materials. Get rid of the juniper bushes and cedar hedge bushes. They die inside, they leave their dead material inside and they burn quickly and hot,” he said.
If you have trees on your property, make sure you cut the low-hanging branches off as well so there’s no easy tinder to fuel a fire.
The more homeowners keep their properties according to FireSmart standards, the safer a neighbourhood will be, he added.
“People need to get this done and work on it long before a wildfire happens. This is a community effort,” he said.
“If your neighbour’s property is FireSmart and yours isn’t, you’re putting their house in danger. So we really want to get neighbourhoods together on this, and in fact, we do have a few neighbourhoods in Kelowna that are FireSmart certified,” he said.
A FireSmart property not only protects your own home and your valuables, but it also acts as a barrier so wildfires don’t spread into the city, Euper added.
Should you want to receive a FireSmart assessment as well as tips on how to get there, call your local fire department.