Editorial: We’re all responsible for wildfire safety

Fire department highlights fire risk in local parks and greenspaces

Visitors to Oak Bay’s Uplands Park and other public greenspaces will notice new signs posted warning of the high fire risk.

The message: Be careful with how you use the space to prevent wildfires.

We’ve all seen what happens when wildfires burn in or near urban settings. The results can be catastrophic.

Capt. Rob Kivell, Oak Bay’s fire prevention officer notes the region’s unseasonably dry spring has increased the risk in our local parks and public spaces, and without any significant precipitation anticipated, it’s expected conditions in our urban forests and parks will continue to dry.

While people may assume the few days of cooler weather and rain have made a difference, it’s not the case, Kivell said. It’s simply not enough.

Oak Bay’s fire rating is now at a high hazard rating, meaning forest fuels are very dry and the fire risk is serious. New fires may start easily, burn vigorously and challenge fire suppression efforts.

Smoking is often targeted as the prime risk, and we urge smokers to avoid smoking in dry, at-risk areas and to dispose of their materials in a safe manner –  but it’s not the only risk. “Anything can start a wildfire – it can even be a piece of glass,” Kivell said.

In addition to being careful in parks and public greenspaces, residents can also take steps around their own property to minimize the risk, including having water available in case a fire starts nearby

Grass – even that allowed to go dormant – should be kept short and shrubs should be well-maintained.

FireSmart Canada also suggests reducing the use of bark mulch near homes and choosing plants more resistent to fire to help slow the spread of blaze should it happen.

The risk of wildfire affects us all, and all of us can take measures to ensure a safer summer.

 

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