Avoiding disaster by fire proofing your property

Years ago wild fires were a threat to all.

Years ago wild fires were a threat to all.

Advanced technology and well-trained fire departments, volunteers and paid workers, have left most people very complacent.

In Alberta, huge wild fires are a thing of the past. While the news shows wild fires out of control in other areas of the world that are hot and windy, most people do not consider it a problem locally.

Given the correct conditions, a large wild fire could destroy a local neighbourhood. There are preventative measures that can be done to the landscape to diminish the risks of fire.

Alberta Sustainable Recourse Development has published The Home Owners FireSmart Manual which covers all aspects of fireproofing the yard. Many of the suggestions in the booklet would leave the yard looking bare with little privacy. It is up to the individual homeowner to decide to what level they want to fire proof their yard.

Ideally, the fire department would like a 10 metre clear zone around the house.

Greenery in this area would consist of a mowed, green lawn, perennials and annuals.

Any trees or shrubs are within this area should be deciduous as they are more fire resistant than evergreens. Leaving the space between buildings and woody provides natural firebreak. This area also allows the fire department easy access to all parts of the building that is on fire.

The next priority zone is from 10 to 30 metres from the house.

For urban dwellers, part of this area is in the neighbour’s yard which is irrelevant.

It is recommended that rural landscapes have trees spaced to allow three to six metres between the tops of the trees. The large distance between trees will ensure that fire can not jump from one tree to another.

These same trees should have all bottom branches removed to a height of two metres. Lack of bottom growth ensures that a grass fire does not have an easy method to climb the tree and spread into the canopy.

Grass in this area must also be mowed short and kept green. It is time consuming to mow huge lawns but the alternative is long dry grass which is not acceptable from an aesthetic or a fire safety point of view.

The area outside this 30-metre area should be thinned, with all dead material removed. Removing all the tinder allows fires to be put out quickly.

There are simple, practical things that can be done to the house or landscape to make the area more resistant to wild fires.

Start by moving all fire wood away from buildings. While it is handy to have firewood by the back door, it will catch fire quickly helping to ignite the house.

Inclosing the area under decks and balconies will slow down the fire giving the fire department more time to contain and put the fire out.

Use rock, cement, metal or treated wood for hard landscaping like; decks, walks and fences.

When landscaping, choose plants that are fire-resistant. This includes most of the annuals and perennials that are hardy to region. With fire safety in mind, as opposed to winter colour, it is best to plant deciduous trees and shrubs as opposed to evergreens. For a more specific list look at www.enjoygardening.com

Linda Tomlinson is a horticulturalist and educator living in Rocky Mountain House. You can contact her at your_garden@hotmail.com

Just Posted

Red Deer group looking to keep roads safe for cyclists

A Red Deer cycling group is concerned about road safety after multiple… Continue reading

Smoke and pets do not mix

Take care of your pets during the smoky weather

Former Red Deer lawyer sentenced

Charges included possession of stolen property

Man causes mischief with axe in Ponoka

Arson and attempted break and enter charges laid

WATCH: Raising money for kids at the Gord Bamford Charity Golf Classic

Former NHL players, Olympians, pro rodeo circuit members and musicians teed off… Continue reading

Oilpatch fears delays as U.S. judge orders further review of KXL pipeline route

CALGARY — Potential delays in the completion of the Keystone XL pipeline… Continue reading

‘Queen of Soul’ Aretha Franklin dies at 76

NEW YORK — Aretha Franklin, the undisputed “Queen of Soul” who sang… Continue reading

Arrests in Burnaby, B.C., as order against Kinder Morgan protest camp enforced

BURNABY, B.C. — The RCMP arrested protesters Thursday as officers enforced a… Continue reading

‘Hot and dirty work:’ Commander describes fighting massive Ontario wildfire

BRITT, Ont. — From a helicopter flying over a smouldering swath of… Continue reading

Calgary Fire Department logs record opioid overdose calls in July

CALGARY — The Calgary Fire Department says there were a record number… Continue reading

RCMP in Burnaby, B.C., say Kinder Morgan protest camp to be dismantled

BURNABY, B.C. — The RCMP arrested protesters when officers enforced a court… Continue reading

Study: Smokers better off quitting, even with weight gain

NEW YORK — If you quit smoking and gain weight, it may… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month