All of us can take steps to reduce the risk and impact of wildfire in Kelowna. The goal of the FireSmartTM program is to support wildfire preparedness, prevention and mitigation. We do this through seven disciplines: education, vegetation management, legislation and planning, development considerations, interagency cooperation, emergency planning and cross-training.
Reducing our risk is a shared responsibility involving all homeowners, neighbourhood leaders, all levels of government and participation from the private sector.
Be prepared for wildfire season
Research has shown that a house with both a fire-resistant roof and a FireSmartTM zone surrounding it is 85 per cent more likely to survive a wildfire.
- If you’re replacing your roof, choose a Class A or fire-resistant product. Your roof is the most vulnerable part of your house in a wildfire because of its large size and susceptibility to flying embers (firebrands).
- Dead pine needles are fuel. Keep them off your roof, out of your gutters and away from the foundation of your house.
- Prune your trees, removing all live and dead branches (up to two meters from the ground), taking no more than 30 per cent of live, green canopy.
- Trim back branches that are hanging over your roof and then clear your roof of leaf or needle litter.
- Keep your lawn mowed and watered, as fire moves quickly through dry grass and weeds.
- Store firewood at least 10 metres from your house, especially during fire season.
For more information, see these factsheets from FireSmartTM BC on how to make your yard, windows & doors, siding, roof, gutters, eaves and vents, fences, decks and porches more fire-resistant.
The Kelowna FireSmartTM Community Chipping pilot program offered free curbside removal and chipping of highly flammable plant and shrub materials to homeowners in identified neighbourhoods from April to July 2022.
From cleaning your roof and gutters to moving firewood, there are several ways you can make your residence FireSmart. View the FireSmartTM BC Homeowner’s Manual to reduce the potential impacts of wildfire on your home.
By making some strategic choices in your yard, you can increase the wildfire resiliency of your property. The FireSmartTM BC Landscaping Guide includes an extensive list of fire-resistant plants, as well as other tips on how to protect your property.
FireSmart is based on foundational scientific evidence that suggests changes to the built environment are the best and most cost-effective way to increase a home’s survivability from wildfire.
FireSmart standards are adopted to decrease the likelihood of losses from wildfire events. It is recognized that there is an urgent need to increase and improve the scientific basis for FireSmart approaches to increase the wildfire resilience of communities. For more information, visit the Research page at FireSmartTM BC.
The Kelowna Fire Department has worked on the caretaker’s house and property at the top of Knox Mountain Park to provide a real demonstration of ideal conditions to mitigate fire risk. The program is aimed to inform anyone living in wildland or urban interface areas about the steps they can take to prepare their house and property to reduce the risk of wildfire. An interpretive sign has been placed on-site as a visual guide with tips that can reduce the fire risk for anyone living in an urban interface area.
Priority zones within demonstration house:
Priority Zone 1 (within 10 meters of the building - the most critical area to consider for fire protection)
- Shrubs, trees, deadfall, unnecessary storage and woodpiles removed
- Grass is watered and mowed
- A metre of landscape rock has been added next to the house
- Trees that remain have been pruned at least two meters up from the ground
Priority Zone 2 (10 to 30 meters from the building)
- Trees pruned and thinned around all buildings/structures on the property
Priority Zone 3 (30 to 100 meters and beyond from the building)
- Trees in the park have been thinned and ladder fuels removed
The FireSmart demonstration garden was installed in 2021 to highlight FireSmart-approved landscaping choices that are suitable for our local climate. Previously the area was landscaped with juniper shrub which has now been replaced with more suitable landscaping choices.
In addition, the gazebo roof, formerly made of cedar shake, was replaced with asphalt in accordance with FireSmart best practices.
Visit the garden any time at the corner of Dilworth Drive and Summit Drive to learn more and get inspired.
The Community Wildfire Resiliency Plan (CWRP) program was created in B.C. as a response to the devastating 2003 wildfire in Kelowna. As an integral part of the Strategic Wildfire Prevention Initiative, managed and funded through the Union of British Columbia Municipalities, CWRPs aim to develop strategic recommendations to assist in improving safety and to reduce the risk and impact of damage to property from wildfires.
The CWRP - updated in 2022 - sets out fuel treatments and recommendations for future community planning to reduce wildfire risk.
To report a wildfire, call the BC Wildfire Centre at 1-800-663-5555 or dial *5555 on a cell.
Wildfire mitigation actions
The City of Kelowna, as well the Regional District of Central Okanagan, the Province of BC and the development community all contribute to reducing wildfire risk within and around the municipality through forest fuel reduction and FireSmart™ projects. Recent City-led projects and initiatives currently in progress include:
- 2022: FireSmart Community Chipping Program
- 2022: Develop updated Community Wildfire Resiliency Plan (CWRP) - see current 2016 version
- 2022: Pilot grazing project to reduce grass fuels at 4295 Field Road (in conjunction with BC Cattlemen’s Association and Ministry of Forests)
Recently completed projects:
- 2021: Created FireSmart™ Demonstration Garden at Summit Dr & Dilworth Dr – removed juniper and tall grasses and replaced with FireSmart-approved landscaping choices
- 2021: Fuel mitigation project at 4295 Field Road (in conjunction with Ministry of Forests as part of landscape-level fuel break) (27 hectares)
- 2020/2019: Fuel mitigation project of Knox Mountain East parcel (57 hectares)
- 2017: Fuel mitigation project at Tower Ranch
It’s YOUR turn to participate in improving wildfire readiness of our community by undertaking FireSmart™ activities on your property!
Conditions are typically dry between the months of June and September and the Kelowna Fire Department reminds everyone to help by observing fire restrictions.
Please note that campfires and outdoor wood burning are never allowed within city limits.
Kelowna beaches and parks are smoke-free. The Parks & Public Spaces Bylaw prohibits smoking in all Kelowna parks, including beaches, trails, playgrounds, sports fields and stadiums, and also prohibits the use of e-cigarettes and cannabis in parks and public spaces.
Looking for specific information about FireSmart in Kelowna?
Connect with us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-469-8733.