Fall is a wonderful time to complete many home maintenance projects as the weather is milder, making work outside more comfortable.

As 2023 was the worst fire season on record for Canada, fire proofing our homes makes the top of RE/MAX’s list of fall home maintenance projects.

No area of Canada went untouched, and we certainly felt the effects in the Southern Interior of BC as we lost hundreds of properties. It is estimated that more than 15 million hectares burned this fire season which is unparalleled when you consider that the previous record was 7.6 in 1989 and that the 10-year average is 2.5 million hectares.

There are practical things homeowners can do to safeguard their properties, and the fall is a perfect time to tackle some of those projects and make plans for others in the Spring.

Did you know that you could get a FireSmart assessment of your property?

The FireSmart Home Partners Program was created to engage homeowners in voluntary, proactive wildfire mitigation efforts by offering a professional home assessment with property-specific recommendation. There are several things that make a home a FireSmart one.

Homeowners should consider;

  • the construction of the home itself,
  • the yard and landscaping, * the vegetation and fuels, and * access.

Today we are going to recommend that you focus on what we are going to call your safe zone, a 10 meter area directly around your home. We suggest that you think of this area as a moat that protects your property. This area should be free from all combustibles.

FireSmart properties owners have prepared 4 zones.

  1. Non-Combustible Zone - 0-1.5 meters this critical, non-combustible surface area should extend around the entire home and any attachments, such as decks, to reduce the chance of wind- blown embers igniting materials near your home.
  2. Zone 1 — 1.5-10 meters this should be a completely fire-resistant zone, free of all materials that could easily ignite from a wildfire.
  3. Zone 2 - 10-30 meters away from your home, your outer yard. In this area trees should be thinned and pruned to reduce hazards. Fallen branches, dry grass and needles should be cleaned up to eliminate potential surface fuels.
  4. Zone 3 — 30-100 meters and is your larger yard or neighborhood.

Look for opportunities here to create fire breaks by removing potentially flammable vegetation to reduce the intensity of a wildfire.

A 1.5 meter non-combustible surface should extend around the entire home and any attachments, such as decks, to reduce the chance of wind-blown embers igniting materials near your home.

  1. Use non-combustible materials such as gravel, brick, or concrete in this critical 1.5 meter area adjacent to your home.
  2. Woody shrubs, trees or tree branches should be avoided in this area; any that are present should be properly mitigated.
  3. Plant only a few fire-resistant plants and shrubs within 10 meters of your home.
  4. Do not use bark or pine needle mulches within 10 meters of your home as they are highly combustible.
  5. Gravel mulch and decorative crushed rock mulch significantly reduce the risk of wildfire.
  6. A mowed lawn is a fire-resistant lawn. Grasses shorter than 10 centimeters in height are less likely to burn intensely.
  7. Move firewood piles, stored trailers/recreational vehicles, storage sheds, and other combustible materials a minimum of 10 meters from your home.
  8. Regularly clean up accumulations of fallen branches, dry grass and needles from the ground to eliminate potential surface fuels.
  9. Remove all branches to a height of 2 meters from the ground on evergreen trees that are within 30 meters.

Living near forested regions puts all our homes at risk, but it is possible to live safely and resiliently with wildfire.

The choices we make about our homes and properties - out to 100 meters from the foundation - can greatly reduce it's vulnerability to wildfire.

Wishing you and yours a fun and a safe fall season at home!

From our HOME to yours!

Cheers, RE/MAX in the South Okanagan

Wishing you a safe and enjoyable fall!

RE/MAX in the South Okanagan

Deborah Moore

Broker Owner