The community came together in Metchosin to enjoy some good food, fun activities, and to learn how to makeproperties more FireSmart as the forest fire season gets underway.
Saturday’s community barbecue was co-hosted by the District of Metchosin and Sc’ianew (Beecher Bay) First Nation on the municipal grounds. Beyond the free barbecue, the day was filled with activities such as fire truck tours, firehose demonstrations, and children’s activities.
“One of our primary goals for this was simply to work with (Sc’ianew First Nation) and enjoy working together on a project. FireSmart has been that project we have been working on together to make both of our communities safer from wildfires and urban interface fires,” said Metchosin Fire Chief Stephanie Dunlop. “This is the second community barbecue, we did one in (Sc’ianew First Nation) last fall.”
The FireSmart program is designed to help residents understand the steps they can take with their properties to reduce the chances of wildfires burning their homes and spreading even further.
One of the main things property owners should do is ensure there is a 1.5-metre non-combustible surface surrounding their home, which can be as simple as clearing vegetation down to the soil, or placing gravel, bricks, or other stones, said Dunlop. Woody shrubs, trees, and tree branches should be kept out of this area.
The materials used on the roof and siding of a home also play a major role in making a property as safe as possible, and the department had a handy prop setup at the barbecue to make it easy to visualize the best practices.
“The prop demonstrates the ideal house, with the non-combustible metre and a half around it, having Hardie board planking on the side, non-combustible shingles, covers on the chimney, things like that,” said Dunlop. “The other parts of it show cedar shingles on the roof as being not as safe, and then the dirty roof covered in moss is the least safe.”
Another key message the Metchosin Fire Department is hoping to spread with the event is that there are several programs being offered to property owners through the FireSmart program.
Home assessments are available for free, which see a FireSmart coordinator visit and tour your property to provide tips and suggestions on what can be improved, a rebate of up to 50 per cent or $500 for landscaping or home improvements which make the property safer is also available. Reflective address signs to make a property easier for firefighters to find at night are also available for $25, among other resources and programs.