More and more people are escaping city life and moving to natural environments to enjoy the serenity and beauty of nature. From nature’s beauty comes nature’s risk of wildfire. Homeowners can enjoy the peace of the natural spaces by taking a few steps to reduce the risk.
Homes lost from wildfire are not usually from direct flames but from sparks, embers and burning material. Fire resistant building materials can reduce the likelihood of wildfire impacting your home. Roofing material and exterior building materials can help to reduce the risk.
Any retro fit, renovation of home building project should begin with a FireSmart site and area assessment. Know your risk so you can make choices to reduce it. View your property more than your yard and home but as potential fuel for a wildfire.
Learn how each of the aspects of your home can make a difference:
The most fire-resistant roofing materials are metal, clay tile and asphalt shingles. Untreated wooden shakes and shingles provide no resistance to flames and sparks generated from a wildfire. Use only class A, B or C rated fire resistant roofing.
Clean debris from your roof annually. Ensure your roof is free of combustible needles and leaves and there are no overhanging trees or branches that can provide fuel for airborne sparks and embers.
Make sure your chimney is to code and has spark arrestor screens installed.
Materials such as stucco, metal, brick and concrete offer superior resistance to wildfire. Logs and heavy timber are less effective, and wood and vinyl siding offer very little protection.
Be sure to remove flammable forest fuels within 10 metres of glazed window and door openings. Tempered, thermal or smaller double-paned windows will provide far greater protection than single paned glass.
Eaves and vents are ready-made openings that can allow heat and embers to enter a building and ignite. Ensure eaves are closed in and screen all vents and soffits. Keep areas under decks and porches clear of debris and sheath the undersides with fire resistant materials.
Make sure that fire fighters are able to approach your home in a safe manner. There are a few things you can do to improve their safety and help them find your home quickly:
I am committed to contribute to a FireSmart committee.— Chris McGuinty, Firefighter, St. Albert, Alberta