Firesmarting your home or cabin to help guard against wildfires makes a lot of sense.
But the City of Yellowknife is worried that if you don’t know what firesmarting really means, some of the steps can also sound extreme.
That’s why the city has set up a demonstration area on the Frame Lake Trail, just south of City Hall – and Moose FM took a video tour of the site.
“We want to educate the public on what a firesmart area looks like,” said Dennis Marchiori, the city’s director of public safety.
“It’s not a clear cut, it’s not taking out all the trees. But it is taking out some of the deadfall; it is limbing trees up; and it’s taking out some of the ground cover.
“People can come by and see the results – see that firesmarting wasn’t the elimination of all the trees.”
Find out more: Firesmarting your home at NWTfire.com
Wes Steed is the territory’s fire prevention coordinator. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources worked together with the city on the firesmart demonstration.
“Have a look,” Steed urged residents. “I think people in Yellowknife will be pretty impressed.”
You can find the demonstration area on the trail between City Hall and Matonabee Street – it’s clearly marked with signs.
Some of the work to firesmart the area has involved removing detritus on the ground, spacing out trees, and limbing some trees to take away “ladder fuels” – in other words, things that can burn that will help a fire to climb a tree, reach the crown, and then spread embers farther.
“By eliminating that ladder, and the fine fuels where fires usually start, we’ve reduced the threat that embers will blow into the rest of the city,” said Steed.
Download: Firesmart homeowner’s manual – everything you need to know (pdf)
Firesmarting public areas like these will be a multi-year project for the city, which characterizes firesmart as continual way of thinking rather than a one-off event. The south and west of the city, considered the most vulnerable to forest fires, are priorities.
Both the city and territory want homeowners and cabin owners to look at the demonstration, then think about how they can firesmart their own property.
“We can’t go on to your private property to do work,” said Steed.
“Firesmart starts in your back yard, that first 10 metres around your home. You need to take care of that first 10 metres. Cabin owners? Same thing.”