Making Communities 'Fire Smart'

Canada has already seen devastating urban forest fires, and some communities are preparing for the worst by adopting "FireSmart" principles into their bylaws.

"Wildfires, much like those that gutted posh homes in Southern California, remain a constant risk in Canada. More homes are being built next to lush wooded areas, putting houses at increasing risk, said Michael Feller, associate professor at the University of British Columbia's forest sciences department.

Canada's already seen the havoc and pain a forest fire can wreak.

In the summer of 2003, people in Kelowna and the Okanagan Valley in southeastern B.C. watched helplessly from the sidelines as their houses went up in smoke. About 50,000 people were evacuated from their homes. The firefighting costs alone reached upwards of $400 million, and insurance payouts reached $200 million.

It didn't have to be this bad.

[There are some] common-sense tips [in the] FireSmart Manual, a guide to help homeowners reduce the risk of losing their houses to forest fires. It was produced by the Partners in Protection organization based in Edmonton.

Its recommendations include ensuring that the immediate vicinity around the house is free of items that would fuel a fire, such as dry shrubs or a wood pile. Trees that are more combustible, such as pine and spruce, should be removed, or spaced at least 3 to 6 metres apart so flames can't spread as easily.

These adjustments can't fire-proof a home, but can cut the risk of damage significantly, said Kelly O'Shea of Partners in Protection.

Some communities, such as Langford, B.C., have factored these principles into their municipal bylaws."

Full Story: Forest fires in urban areas


building block set

NEW! Build the world you want to see

Irresistible block set for adults when placed on a coffee table or desk, and great fun for kids.
Red necktie with map of Boston

For dads and grads: tie one on to celebrate your city!

Choose from over 20 styles imprinted with detailed city or transit maps.
Wood necklace with city map

City Necklaces

These sweet pendants are engraved on a cedar charm with a mini map of selected cities. The perfect gift for friends and family or yourself!
AICP CTP Storefont Display

The first online AICP* CTP exam prep class

Are you ready to take the AICP* Certified Transportation Planner exam?
Priced at $245 for May exam!