British Columbia

Coquitlam homeowners to get wildfire education

Coquitlam Fire and Rescue is holding information sessions to teach homeowners how to prevent flames from spreading in the event of a wildfire.

Coquitlam Fire and Rescue will hold 3 information sessions on how to fire smart your home

Ron Beatty, assistant chief of fire prevention with the Coquitlam Fire Department, advises against cedar fences like this one because they are combustible. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

If a wildfire is sparked in the forests of Coquitlam, the outcome could be ugly for the more than 1,200 properties at the forest's edge, which is why the local fire department is educating homeowners on how to reduce any potential damage. 

"The risk is there, for sure," said Ron Beatty, assistant chief of fire prevention.

Beatty said the risk has gone up over the past few years as more homes are built near the forest. 

"With climate change and the amount of humidity in that forest floor has changed over the years so with the hotter summers, dryer summers, it's becoming an increasing concern on the coast as well as the Interior," he said. 

More than 1,200 properties line the forest's edge in Coquitlam and, with plans to build more, the local fire department is educating homeowners on how to reduce potential damage from wildfires. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The department is holding the first of three information sessions on Tuesday to educate residents on what they can do to prevent the spread of flames.

  • Tuesday, July 16, 6 – 9 p.m., Poirier Sport & Leisure Complex (633 Poirier St.)
  • Wednesday, July 17, 6 – 9 p.m., City Centre Aquatic Complex (1210 Pinetree Way)
  • Thursday, July 18, 6 – 9 p.m., Burke Mountain Firehall (3501 David Ave.)

"Things as simple as pruning trees, keeping lawns trimmed and preened when you live in that kind of an area and also choosing gravel in garden beds [rather] than bark mulch," he said. 

There have been a number of wildfires in Coquitlam over the years, but none have impacted structures. 

Beatty shows off materials that are less combustible, such as stones and lava rocks, which are good choices for gardens or pathways. (Ben Nelms/CBC)
Beatty doesn't recommend using bark mulch in your gardens because it can be easily ignited. He also advised homeowners to clear yards of any dead and dry vegetation. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The department has invested in firefighting equipment to battle wildfires if they occur and is now asking residents to do their part.

"It's not the actual fire often that sets homes on fire, it's the embers that are coming from forest fire. If you can keep the humidity up and [use] building materials that are fire resistant, then you're going to do yourself a huge favour when the time comes."

The events are free to attend and there is no need to register.

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