Extreme fire conditions prompt Fire Department to educate commercial building owners

August 10, 2022

News release

The Kelowna Fire Department has been busy responding to numerous grass and brush fires over the last few weeks. Although Kelowna had a cooler spring, those conditions have now reverted to our hot dry summers and with that, the threat of wildfire.  

“With temperatures expected to remain in the high 20s to low 30s high over the next several weeks, we need to take steps to ensure we minimize the likelihood of an urban interface fire,” said Paul Johnson, Fire Prevention Officer with the Kelowna Fire Department.  

With the hope of minimizing fire damage to commercial businesses, the Kelowna Fire Department has created a video targeting business owners. Last summer Fire Department personnel visited business owners and provided them with information on approved storage requirements and this year the KKFD has created a video which it hopes will have a broader reach to the commercial community.  

“If a commercial building adjacent to a dry hillside were to catch on fire, it could have dire implications to the dry slopes above the building,” said Johnson. “By educating the businesses and building owners on how to mitigate the hazards around the commercial building, we hope to minimize damage both to the building and to the surrounding forest/grassland.” 

Many people have heard of FireSmart Canada. FireSmart, educates homeowners on how to mitigate fire hazards on their property by reducing fuels around their home and creating FireSmart Priority Zones.  KFD (Kelowna Fire Department) has implemented proven FireSmart techniques and has applied them to commercial buildings. These techniques combined with BC Fire Code storage requirements, have a positive impact on reducing the chance of an exterior fire damaging the building.   

The video speaks of combustible vegetation within 1.5 metres of the building and recommends removing cedar hedges and juniper bushes. The Fire Department is championing this initiative by following its own recommendations and applying FireSmart Principles to all the City of Kelowna Fire Stations. The adjacent cedars were removed from the property and the bark mulch is being replaced with FireSmart approved ground cover.  

The Fire Danger rating in the Central Okanagan is now listed between high and extreme. We all need to do our part by keeping our community safe and keeping it a desirable place to live and to visit. The Fire Department asks residents to notify the fire department whenever they notice smoke in the area and remain vigilant when it comes to fire safety.   

View the new “Outdoor Fire Prevention for Commercial Properties” video here, and find other City of Kelowna fire safety videos by visiting, kelowna.ca/fire.  

For more information, or to schedule a free FireSmart assessment of your home, please contact the Kelowna Fire Department Fire and Life Safety Educator at 250-469-8801 or email fireprevention@kelowna.ca