There has been an increase in the number of wildfires throughout BC over the past decade, however, wildfires are an important and necessary event in most Canadian ecosystems. Wildland fires play a key role in the renewal of forests and grasslands, and they reduce fuel loads that feed wildfires.
Wildfires become a problem when the wildland area meets an urban area that is not fire-safe.
Is your home safe from wildland fires?
A large portion of Coquitlam is considered Wildland/Urban Interface land, meaning that the forest meets the community in some areas. As a result, it is important to establish and maintain fire-safe homes and practice fire-safe behaviours within our community.
Keep combustible materials at least 1.5m from your home, and piles of firewood at least 10m away.
Keep your roof and gutters free of leaves and pine needles, and prune all branches that hang over the roof
Choose fire-safe vegetation, and space it so that there is no continuous line of vegetation leading to your structure
Remove all dead/dry vegetation and trim tree limbs 2-3 meters from the ground
Choose non-combustible roofing, building and landscape materials
Know where the gas, electric and water shut-offs are in your home, and have a wildfire escape plan in place
Preparing your home ahead of time could be the difference between saving your home or losing it to a wildland fire. For more information on Wildland/Urban Interface fires, and how you can create a fire-safe home, visit firesmartbc.ca.
Building and Landscaping Recommendations
Designing and maintaining a fire-wise building or subdivision can mean the difference in a successful outcome when dealing with interface fires. The Wildland/Urban Interface Area - Builders, Developers and Professionals Guide (PDF) has recommendations that are provided to assist in the choice of development design, choice of construction materials and landscaping in interface areas. This document is also useful for homeowners who are undertaking renovations.
Coquitlam Fire/Rescue recommends using construction materials that can reduce a fire’s spread and extend the amount of time it takes for a home to ignite and burn. All homeowners should consult local bylaws and registered covenants on the use of materials and design approaches prior to building construction.
There are also decisions that can be made with your landscaping that can help prevent potential wildfire damage to your home - landscaping choices (PDF) lists plants that are recommended for properties in a wildland/urban interface area.
Summer Fire Safety
During the summer season's drier and warmer temperatures, it's important to adhere to City bylaws that ban open air burning, littering cigarette butts and smoking in parks. Fines increase during summer months due to heightened fire risk. Visit coquitlam.ca/summerfiresafety for details.
It's always important to keep an eye on and be aware of the local fire-risk rating as there are a number of changes and impacts to residents when it increases such as barbeque bans in our parks or the relaxation of watering restrictions in areas adjacent to heavily wooded/forested areas such as Mundy Park the northern forested boundary of the city.
The current fire risk is “EXTREME”
Water Restriction Relaxation
Should the fire risk rating increase into the “Extreme” range for three or more consecutive days, certain residential and business properties identified as extreme risk located immediately adjacent to Mundy Park and along the northern forested boundary of the City may be eligible for a relaxation of summertime watering restrictions.
During this “extreme” fire-risk rating time period, Fire/Rescue will encourage occupants of these properties to ensure grass, trees and other vegetation are sufficiently hydrated. Details and list of Exempted Properties can also be found at coquitlam.ca/summerfiresafety.