FireSmart is a shared responsibility. It is about living in a fire-prone ecosystem and taking the necessary steps to protect your family, property and community from wildfire. Over time, FireSmart principles have shown that they are effective at reducing the risk related to losses in the most extreme wildfire conditions. With a few simple steps, you can contribute to increasing your property, neighbourhood and community resiliency to wildfire. Click on the different headings below to find more information on how you and your community can become more FireSmart!
These recently completed and Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) Board-endorsed CWRPs are the framework for wildfire risk mitigation in the RDN. The CWRPs outline dozens of recommendations with different suggested priority levels that, along with regional fire departments and other stakeholder input, will craft the next steps and future plans to reduce wildfire risk in the RDN.
To check out the CWRP for your area click here
- Is My Home at Risk? - Wildland Urban Interface
The Wildland Urban Interface, or the WUI, is the zone where human-made structures and other developments meet and intermingle with undeveloped wildland or vegetative fuels. In wildfire resiliency, we talk a lot about the WUI, because homes and structures in this zone are at the greatest risk of being affected by a wildfire.
- Where should I start? - Home Ignition Zone
The area around your home can be broken into three different zones. Start from the Non-Combustible/ Immediate Zone by tackling simple tasks like cleaning your gutters, clearing debris from below your patio, and sweeping debris away from your porch!
Immediate Zone (0 –1.5 meters)
The Immediate Zone is a non-combustible area that starts at the house and extends to 1.5m perimeter around the home and attached structures, including decks. Reduce the chance of wind-blown embers igniting your home by starting with these proactive steps:
Choose non-combustible building materials when constructing or renovating your home. Clear vegetation and combustible material down to mineral soil and cover with non-combustible materials like gravel, brick, or concrete. Avoid planting woody shrubs or trees. If any are present, prune and maintain them regularly
Intermediate Zone (1.5 – 10 meters)
Elements in the Intermediate Zone are managed so they don’t transmit fire to your home. Here are a few actions you can take to reduce your home’s vulnerability:
Plant fire-resistant vegetation and select non-combustible landscaping materials. Avoid incorporating any woody debris, including mulch. Keep combustible items like firewood piles, construction materials, patio furniture, tools, and decorative pieces out of this zone. Move trailers, recreational vehicles, storage sheds, and other combustible structures into the Extended Zone. If that’s not possible, store firewood inside your mitigated garage, shed, or other ember resistant structures. Create a non-combustible ground cover, like a gravel pad, underneath and 1.5 metres around trailers, recreational vehicles, and sheds.
Extended Zone (10 – 30 meters)
The goal in the Extended Zone is not to eliminate fire, but to reduce its intensity. If your property extends into this zone, a few important steps you can take include:
Selectively remove evergreen trees to create at least 3 metres of horizontal space between the single or grouped tree crowns. Remove all branches to a height of 2 metres from the ground. Regularly clean up accumulations of fallen branches, dry grass, and needles to eliminate potential surface fuels. Continue to apply these principles if your property extends beyond 30 m. Work with your neighbours in overlapping zones and seek guidance from a forest professional if affected by other conditions like steep slopes.
- What can I do at my Home? - FireSmart Begins at Home Manual
There are many simple steps you can take around your home and property to become more FireSmart. A great place to start is creating a regular yard maintenance routine. This includes cleaning your gutters of debris, mowing the grass, clearing vegetation away from your home and combustible fence. Check out the FireSmart Homeowner’s Manual available for download here for more great actions to create a non-combustible zone around your home to reduce the risk from wildfire damage.
- How can I keep my Neighbourhood Safe? - FireSmart Canada Neighbourhood Recognition Program
FireSmart Canada developed the FCNRP to officially recognize neighbourhoods that have taken critical steps to reduce their vulnerabilities to wildfire. Because FireSmart is most effective when neighbours band together. This program is a great way to encourage your neighbourhood to become FireSmart and to celebrate the FireSmart steps you've taken as a community.
At the Regional District of Nanaimo, we have a lot of certified Local FireSmart Representatives who can help you on your journey. To find your Local FireSmart Representative, send an email to emergencyservices [at] rdn.bc.ca. They will lead you through FireSmart Home Assessments, connect you with valuable resources, and help you organize a FireSmart Committee.
If your neighbourhood, subdivision or small town is prone to wildfire, then you can get FireSmart recognition status by meeting the following criteria:
- Enlisting a wildland/urban interface specialist to complete an assessment and create a plan that identifies locally agreed-upon solutions that the neighbourhood can implement.
- Sponsoring a local FireSmart committee, which maintains the FireSmart Neighbourhood Plan and tracks its progress or status.
- Conducting FireSmart events each year that are dedicated to a local FireSmart project.
- Investing a minimum of $2 per capita annually in local FireSmart Neighbourhood efforts.
- Submitting an annual report to FireSmart Canada that documents continuing compliance with the program.
For more information, you can email us at emergencyservices [at] rdn.bc.ca or check out the FireSmart BC FCNRP Webpage
- What should I do if I'm building a new home? - Homebuilding and Development Considerations
Following FireSmart principles when developing land, designing homes and structures, and landscaping on properties within the Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) is an important part of the planning and development process. Developers, builders, contractors and homeowners should review the FireSmart basics and follow FireSmart building practices when designing, planning and building in the RDN to mitigate wildfire risk.
Check out the RDN Building Department's Information Bulletin "Creating a FireSmart Home and Property"
To learn more about building material check out the FireSmart Fact Sheets
- What should I plant in my yard? - Landscaping and Gardening
Fire resistant plants are those that do not readily ignite from flame or other ignition sources. These plants can be damaged or even killed by fire however, their foliage and stems do not significantly contribute to the fuel and fire intensity.
Characteristics of fire-resistant plants:
- low amount of sap or resin material
- moist, supple leaves
- accumulates minimal dead vegetation
- water-like sap with little odour
Characteristics of highly flammable plants:
- leaves or needles are aromatic
- accumulates fine, dry dead material
- contain resin or oils
- loose, papery or flaky bark
Examples of plants to AVOID planting: cedar, juniper, pine, tall grass and spruce
Plan your landscape with low water requirements that are also FireSmart. Water conservation and environmental protection are values shared by all of us. Checkout the following resources for FireSmart and WaterSmart landscapes.
RDN FireSmart and WaterSmart: FireSmart and WaterSmart Landscaping Guide
FireSmart BC Landscaping Guide: FireSmart BC Landscaping Guide
City of Campbell River & Strathcona Regional District: FireSmart Guide to Gardening
RDN WaterSmart: Team WaterSmart Landscaping Guides