An ounce of prevention equals a pound of cure in the city
Although the wet spring and a soggy start to summer don’t have many people thinking about the prospect of wildfire, the risk is there and lying in wait for the dry heat of summer.
And ahead of that fire season, the Nelson Fire and Rescue Services will be bringing their message of wildfire preparedness and FireSmart principles to the city’s interface neighborhoods.
Throughout the month of June, firefighters will be going door to door to help educate and answer residents’ questions about their own homes and preparedness levels.
Fire Fighter Scott Jeffery has been involved with the Community Wildfire Outreach Program (CWPP) since its beginnings and has seen the positive impact of visiting residents at home.
“People really appreciate being able to ask questions about the risks to their own property and fire safety concerns,” Jeffery explains. “We are often able to help residents focus their efforts in incremental steps towards what, at first, can seem like an overwhelming problem.”
Fire Chief Simon Grypma said Nelson is now recognized as a leader among other municipalities in wildfire preparedness.
“Having our CWPP in place has allowed us to push forward with planning, public education, and fuel mitigation projects. Equally important to this work is having private home owners embrace FireSmart principles; by working together towards a FireSmart Community, we will all be safer.”
For homeowners who need a little extra incentive, Nelson Fire Rescue is once again partnering with the local insurance brokers to offer a FireSmart Insurance Credit Contest. Kootenay Insurance Services, BCAA, Poulin Agencies, and RHC Insurance brokers have pooled $800 towards covering the fire insurance premium for one FireSmart Nelson homeowner who takes steps towards improving their wildfire preparedness.
Last year’s winners, Brian and Alison Cutts, made their home safer by moving their seasonal firewood pile away from their house on Trevor Street.
Chief Grypma acknowledges that there has been an increased interest in fire safety.
“After recent high profile fire losses in Slave Lake, Alberta, FireSmart principles have been brought to the forefront and home owners are very receptive. From year to year we have seen an increase in both interest and the efforts that people are making on their own properties,” said Grypma.
Community Wildfire Outreach Program – 2011
During the on site visits, residents and homeowners can ask specific questions about their own preparedness and learn more about:
- How to evaluate the risk to your home
- How to best focus your efforts to reduce risk from wildfire
- The proper use of roof top sprinklers to protect your home
- Site specific fire safety concerns
If you are missed during these visits here are five top FireSmart principles for you to consider:
- Focus on Priority Zone: The condition of your house and the first 10 metres of yard surrounding it is the area where your efforts can have the best results in preventing ignition during a wildfire.
- Remove coniferous shrubs from areas immediately adjacent to your house: Ornamental cedars, particularly when placed underneath the soffit present a significant risk for wildfire spreading to your home. When landscaping, choose a more fire resistant deciduous species.
- Remove wood piles that are immediately adjacent to your house: Plan your seasonal firewood use so that there is no wood stored immediately adjacent to your house.
- Avoid storing lumber and other combustibles underneath open decks: These areas should also be kept clear from needles, leaves and other seasonal debris.
- Where coniferous trees are kept for shade and aesthetic reasons prune the lower limbs so that they are not touching the ground: It is best to remove these “ladder fuels” to a height of at least two metres.
More information can be found on the City’s website located at www.nelson.ca.
FireSmart specific information is found under the Wildfire Category of the Nelson Fire Rescue Services section.
Homeowners who wish to have specific questions answered about their property are welcome to schedule an onsite visit at any time of the year, not just during the Community Wildfire Outreach visits in June. Call the Fire Hall at 352-3103 to schedule an onsite visit.