Stay Safe! Wildfire Preparedness
This article is being written as Fire Fighters from coast-to-coast reflect on the outstanding efforts put forth by their colleagues in Fort McMurray. We salute all of the first responders, many of whom who put the good of the community ahead of their personal considerations, as they dealt with the devastation of the wildfire that swept through the Fort McMurray area in early May.
Over the past couple of articles we have offered thoughts and suggestions as to how someone with a neuro-muscular disorder might prepare for the occurrence of an emergency which impacts you personally. Of particular importance were the preparations we recommended you put in place, in the event you are displaced from your home. A wildfire would certainly be such an event.
I am sure many of you have thought about what can be done to reduce the potential impacts of wildfire on our own homes and the homes of family and friends? While there are no guarantees, it is the belief of firefighters that you and your neighbours can reduce wildfire hazards by following some simple, preventative steps.
These steps are designed to be realistic to achieve and are an inexpensive way to limit the risk of wildfire to your home or the home of anyone who lives in an area which is close to the forest. We strongly recommend that you integrate some of these ideas into any long-term renovation plans you may have, while immediately incorporating regular yard clean-ups to reduce your risk of damage from wildfire, if you haven’t already done so.
It is suggested that, where a wildfire threat may exist and depending on the size of the property, the area around one’s residence be broken down into three zones.
Zone 1 would be your home and your yard up to about 10 metres from the house. Preparing this area is critical. By creating a fuel free space you can assist firefighters in protecting structures on your property.
Zone 2 would be the area 10 to 30 metres away from structures. In this area any fuels should be reduced by thinning and pruning vegetation and trees. This will slow a fire’s spread.
Zone 3 begins 30 metres from any structure and extends to a distance of 100 metres and beyond. The focus of this area should be to thin out trees and vegetation so that if a fire does burn into the area it will be less intense and spread at a slower rate.
If you are unsure of where to start with your property, it is recommended that you take an assessment test to determine where the priorities might be. One such test can be found here.
While wildfires tend to start in rural parts of Canada, the experience in Northern Alberta shows just how quickly winds can bring the threat to the doorstep of homeowners in cities. Sparks and embers, the burning debris from a wildfire, can be thrown up to two kilometres ahead of a wildfire. These sparks and embers can ignite materials on or near your home, causing severe damage.
If you have concerns about your property and are unsure where to get information or guidance on what steps you might take to put your mind at ease, look no further than your local fire department. If you are unable reach them, contact your regional office of Muscular Dystrophy Canada; they will put you in touch with a Fire Fighter who can assist you.
The commitment of Canadian Fire Fighters to individuals affected by neuromuscular disorders goes beyond fund-raising—they also care about your well-being. The National Fire Fighters Relations Committee (NFFRC) brings educational articles about fire and life safety issues to help keep you safe!