Be FireSmart: The Rural Reality

Wildland forest fires are capable of spreading at an astonishing rate. Crowning forest fires often spread at up to 5.5 kilometres per hour, with spotting as far as 2 km ahead. Wind blown grass fires can spread at speads up to 8.5 kilometres per hour!

If you live in or near a forested region – like we do here in the South Cariboo – sooner or later you may have to contend with the spread of a wildfire. The best protection against loss, damage or injury due to wildfire is prevention.

The following FireSmart recommendations can help reduce your risk.


A Prune tree branches to a height of 2 metres or more
B Store fire wood 10 metres or more from the house (avoid downslope location)
C Remove all trees, long grass, shrubs, logs, branches, twigs and needles within 10 metres of house
D Thin trees (with 3-6 metres between crowns) for at least 30 metres from the house
E Contact your utility company if trees or branches are not clear of power lines
F Grass within 10 metres of buildings should be mowed and watered
G Address, fire or lot number clearly signed for quick identification by fire service
H Driveway is wide enough to accommodate emergency vehicles
I Try to provide an alternate emergency access route to your property
J Pond or tank with emergency water supply
K A FireSmart burning barrel
L Driveway clear of trees to a distance of at least 3 or 4 metres
M Chimney installed to code complete with spark arrestor screens
N All eaves enclosed and screen all vents including soffits
O Undersides of balconies, decks and crawlspaces sheathed in with flame resistant materials
P Propane tanks located at least 10m from building – clear all vegetation within 3 metres
Q Use only fire retardant roofing rated Class A, B or C and fire resistant exterior siding
R Solid shutters or metal firescreens will provide increased fire protection for windows and doors

Source: The Home Owners FireSmart Manual, B.C. Edition


To check out how well you are protected, take a quick test by answering a few questions about your specific home and site hazards here.

For more information about protecting your home and community from wildfire, you can order a detailed copy of “FireSmart – Protecting Your Community from Wildfire”. Copies are available from:

Partners in Protection
P.O. Box 45047
Lansdowne Postal Station
Edmonton AB T6H 3S0
ph: (780) 435-7283

or you can download it from their website as a PDF pdf (about 33MB! total). On request they will also send you a multimedia CD-ROM.

Another site of interest is the website of the BC Wildfire Management Branch. It gives more information on fire prevention, detection and suppression and burning and travel restrictions.

Wildfire Information Line: 1-888-3FOREST or 1-888-336-7378.

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Other FireSmart Considerations     

Important Factors Yes No
Do you have adequate insurance on your home and property?
Do you have the necessary fire suppression equipment (shovels, rakes, buckets, hoses, etc.) easily accessible?
Are your burn barrels screened and at least 10 metres from combustibles and buildings?
Are overhead powerlines clear of vegetation and at least a tree's height away from nearest forest?
Are propane tanks clear of vegetation and at least 10 metres from dwellings and other buildings?
Are emergency fire services within a 10 minute drive from your home?
Is your chimney safe? Is your chimney clean? Does it have proper clearances and stack heights with proper screens and fire arresters?
Do you have good access to your property for emergency response vehicles?
Is the area within 10 metres of your home and other buildings free of trees, flammable vegetation and other combustibles?
Do you have an adequate municipal or on site water supply in case of fire
Does your family have an emergency fire and evacuation plan?

Source: The Home Owners FireSmart Manual, B.C. Edition