July 25, 2014 - 12:33 PM
KELOWNA – The city would like to see more houses just like the one at the top of Knox Mountain.
The house, which is in a potential wildfire zone, is surrounded by a gravel perimeter, the roof is covered in fire retardant shingles and all the vents have been covered with mesh.
The land around it is also free of deadfall and other combustible material and the plants and landscaping have been chosen for their fire prevention properties.
The house was built in 2003 for the park's caretaker, and recently the City of Kelowna and the Kelowna Fire Department have turned it into a model of what a house in an interface fire zone should look like. They call it the FireSmart Demonstration House.
Fire safety instructor Rick Euper says the house is an important tool in teaching residents how they can protect their homes in the case of a wildfire.
Euper recommends residents start at the roof and work their way out. This includes ensuring no combustible material is within 10 m of the house and that vents be covered in order to avoid drawing burning embers inside.
Andrew Hunsberger is an urban forest health technician for the city. He says to avoid spreading the fire, property should be cleared of deadfall and heavy forests be thinned wherever possible.
“The idea is, if there is a fire, to keep it on the ground and at a low intensity,” he says.
There is a bylaw requiring developers within an interface fire to follow FireSafe regulations when building and owners are also required to maintain the house and surrounding property as well.
Hunsberger says the city will not necessarily be issuing tickets for noncompliers, but will instead reach out to residents in areas like Quail Ridge, Gallagher’s Canyon, McKinley Landing and Clifton Rd.
“We don’t want to go in with a heavy hand,” he says. “We want to work with the community and neighbourhoods especially. A lot of people don’t even realize there’s a hazard there.”
To learn more about how to FireSmart your home download the home owners manual at the B.C. Wildfire website.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014