Preparing facilities for wildfires

Around 8,000 wildfires burn a total land area about half the size of Nova Scotia in Canada each year.
Tuesday, May 11, 2021

We’re into the season of wildfires in North America, and there are a number of measures that facility managers can take to protect their properties.

Trimming back trees, shrubs, and bushes, and creating a defensible space around your facility can help protect it from wildfires, says Pacific Gas and Electric Co.

Once the rainy season is over, facility managers should begin evaluating the property around their buildings for fire hazards. Removing flammable vegetation such as dry grass, leaves, and pine needles can help stop fires from spreading during summer’s wildfire season.

Creating a defensible space does not mean you need to keep the area around your facility free from all vegetation. Follow a general concept keeping trees farthest from the building, with shrubs closer, and lawns and bedding plants the closest.

This spring, consider preparing your property for the threat of wildfires by:

  • Regularly clearing your property’s roof and rain gutters by removing dead leaves and pine needles
  • Strategically landscaping with fire-resistant plants to keep things lean and green in the area within 30 feet of your facility
  • Trimming tree branches that hang over your roof.

There are around 8,000 wildfires in Canada each year, according to Red Cross. On average in Canada, wildfires burn 2.5 million hectares per year, nearly half the size of the province of Nova Scotia.

Densely forested areas are at the greatest risk, particularly during dry conditions and drought. In 2019, the vast majority of Canada’s wildfires were in Yukon, Alberta, and Northwestern Ontario. Most wildfires occur between April and September.

The Canadian Wildland Fire Information System creates daily maps tracking the behaviour of fires throughout the year. During the fire season, the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre provides up-to-date reports on wildfires across the country.
FiresmartCanada.ca provides guidance on how to mitigate and prepare your home and community for wildfire risk.

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