Autumn an ideal time for wildfire prevention work

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By MITCHELL SHERRIN

Special to the Driftwood

When is the best time to fix a roof leak? Not when it’s raining. The same adage stands true for wildfire prevention. 

Now that we’ve almost escaped fire season, autumn is actually a great time of year to assess your yard for wildfire safety. And if you are not sure where to apply your best efforts, you can get help from Salt Spring Island Fire Rescue (SSIFR).

As it happens, Salt Spring Island actually receives many brush fires in the autumn. So, it’s still vital to remain vigilant about wildfire. Have you assessed your home and yard for wildfire safety?

SSIFR has trained several members to make residential FireSmart assessments. To conduct a FireSmart assessment, FireSmart representatives walk around your yard and look at the types and volume of vegetation in proximity to your home with an eye toward reducing the risk of wildfire. These assessments are free of charge, and they will provide you with an array of optional recommendations.

In addition, island seniors (age 65 plus) and people with disabilities can be eligible for a $250 rebate through SSIFR when they hire contractors (landscapers, arborists, etc.) to mitigate fire hazards around their property.

A few themes appear in every FireSmart assessment: most yards can enhance fire safety by judicious pruning, thinning and removal of vegetation near the home. This doesn’t mean that you need to create a “moonscape.” A FireSmart yard can be an attractive and lush garden.

One of the advantages of conducting a FireSmart assessment in the fall is that this season is an excellent time for pruning and thinning (yes, you can use your chainsaw again). Autumn can be a great time to plant fruit trees, transplant native species, collect branches from the yard, and conduct open burning (backyard burns are still banned – but the prohibition will open soon, weather permitting).

Many home maintenance activities typically done in the fall also enhance fire safety. Cleaning gutters and roofs of debris reduces fire risk. Maintaining roof vents and soffits (no holes in screens or vents) can prevent embers from being drawn into an attic space. Raking leaves away from drains reduces fuel for wildfires. A clean inspected chimney by a certified sweep is another excellent idea. So, while you do the chores you’d planned anyway, you can pat yourself on the back for improving the fire safety of your home and your community.

To book a FireSmart assessment or to learn more information about FireSmart, contact SSIFR (250-537-2531), drop by the Ganges Fire Hall (105 Lower Ganges Rd.) or check the SSIFR website at  HYPERLINK “http://www.saltspringfire.com/firesmart-ssi/”www.saltspringfire.com/firesmart-ssi/.

The contributor is the local FireSmart coordinator and a fire captain with Salt Spring Island Fire Rescue.

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