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“In a previous article we talked about understanding your wildfire risk and taking action by starting closest to your home, but farm and acreage owners know that spring cleaning extends well into the yard,” says Laura Stewart, FireSmart specialist with the Alberta government. “As we move farther out, there are other things to consider to keep your property FireSmart.”
The 4 C’s of a FireSmart yard
“To reduce the risk of wildfire on your property, keep in mind the 4 C’s: cut, cultivate, clean and check,” says Stewart.
Keep your grass well-maintained to 10 cm or less. Dry grass can be hazardous not just in the spring, but in late fall and winter as well. Under the right weather conditions, with high winds and no snow cover, grass fires any time of year can spread quickly and threaten farms, ranches and acreages.
Mowing your grass is a good way to help prevent the spread of wildfire. Studies and field tests have proven fall mowing to be an effective fuelbreak, slowing the spread of wildfire and giving firefighters a chance to contain the fire. Mowing grass short in the fall will put you ahead of the game in the spring.
Till around your home and outbuildings. This will help prevent the spread of fire into your yard and give the local fire department an anchor point to work from. If you have property that adjoins a community, sub-division or other residence, talk to your neighbours.
This proactive step will protect them, as well as you, from wildfire. This practice will also have you ready for the spring wildfire season, with one less thing to worry about when you could be seeding.
Clean out flower beds next to your house and outbuildings. Dead and dry flower and plant stems that build up in flower beds can easily ignite from embers blown around by the wind from an advancing wildfire. Once this vegetation catches fire, it can easily ignite a house or outbuildings. Clean up the down and dead wood in your yard, shelter belts, woodlots, and near your home and fences.
Check for trees and branches that may have fallen on power lines over the winter. In 2020, 37 wildfires were caused by incidents such as downed power lines coming into contact with trees. Check your poles for rot and replacement; if the pole belongs to your local utility provider, contact them with your concerns. Walk the lines and look for any tree branches or trees in poor condition that may come in contact with the line in high wind. Contact your local utility provider to remove or trim the trees or branches.
For more information about steps you can take to protect your home and property from the devastating effects of wildfire, download the latest edition of the FireSmart Farm and Acreage Magazine (PDF, 3.1 MB).
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