Page 1

Spring and Summer 2012

BUILDING BLOCKS TO A FIRESMART HOME p. 6

ARE YOU DISASTER READY? p. 38

LIVESTOCK EVACUATION p. 22

YOUR RURAL ADDRESS MATTERS p. 27

FREE FIRESMART FARM AND ACREAGE MAGAZINE /1


OHVs CAN START WILDFIRES REMOVE ANY DEBRIS THAT CAN START A WILDFIRE Visit our website: srd.alberta.ca or call 310-0000


6/ building blocks to

a firesmart home

10/ easy steps to make your burn

barrel or fire pit firesmart

13/ fire permits 15/ welcome to alberta’s

forest protection area

16/ off highway vehicles

spark wildfires

19/ prepare to evacuate 22/ livestock evacuation

photo: Caezer Ng


25/ ask wes

34/ wildfire insurance

26/ driveway etiquette

37/ woodlot owners face

27/ your rural address

really matters

28/ farmers face special

burning challenges

32/ firesmart farm and

ranch practices

threats from wildfire

38/ are you disaster ready? 40/ parting shot


Editor Leslie Lozinski

Design André Lemay

Contributing Writers: Geoffrey Driscoll, Adam Gossell, Leslie Lozinski, Dale Miller, Wes Nimco, Kelly O’Shea, Tracy Price

Supporting Agencies: Wildland firefighting is a co-operative effort. This project would not have been possible without the talent, experience, and dedication of Alberta Sustainable Resource Development, John Biro and Westlock County Fire Services, Brett Demary and Emergency Services County of Thorhild, Ron Jackson and Emergency Services Athabasca County, Pat Mahoney and Sturgeon County Protective Services, Dale Miller and Strathcona County Emergency Services and other organizations who strive to educate and protect Albertan’s from wildfire.

FIRE SEASON STARTS MARCH 1 Fire permits will be required for any burning in the Forest Protection Area (excluding campfires). WHAT YOU SHOULD DO? Visit your winter burn sites to ensure the fires have been completely extinguished. You can get a free fire permit by contacting your local Sustainable Resource Development office.

4/FIRESMART FARM AND ACREAGE MAGAZINE

Working Together For Safer Communities in the Wildland/Urban Interface

Copyright 2012 Partners In Protection Association 5320-122 Street Edmonton, Alberta T6H 3S5 780-435-7338

HELP PROTECT YOUR FOREST Put out your campfire

SOAK IT STIR THE ASHES SOAK IT AGAIN


Dear Reader, The Partners in Protection Association is pleased to present the FireSmart Farm and Acreage Magazine. Partners in Protection was formed as a non-profit association in 1993 to bring together agencies and organizations with responsibility for planning, development and fire management in the wildland/urban interface. The wildland/urban interface is a term used to describe an area where human-built structures and infrastructure meet or mix with naturally occurring vegetation. Natural vegetation such as trees, brush, grass or agricultural crops is the fuel that burns in a wildland fire and carries the fire into contact with homes and other buildings, and more importantly, with people. The Partners in Protection motto is “Working Together for Safer Communities in the Wildland/Urban Interface.� Communities are not necessarily towns and villages. They can be farms, ranches, acreages, subdivisions, industrial developments and parks, or any area where human development brings people together to work, live or play. Activities to reduce the hazard and risk of fire in the wildland/urban interface are a shared responsibility between all levels of government, planners, developers, industry, fire protection agencies, land owners and residents. The Partners in Protection mission has remained the same since incorporation: To facilitate interagency co-operation in the promotion of awareness and education aimed at reducing risk of loss of life and property from fire in the wildland/urban interface. This FireSmart Farm and Acreage Magazine presents a wealth of knowledge about the unique challenges farmers, ranchers and acreage owners face in preventing and preparing for wildfire. It is our sincere hope that you never face a wildfire, but if you do, that you are prepared.

Kelly O'Shea Executive Director Partners In Protection Association 5320-122 Street Edmonton, Alberta T6H 3S5 www.partnersinprotection.com

FIRESMART FARM AND ACREAGE MAGAZINE

/5


If you’re building new or renovating, making your home less susceptible to wildfire can be easy and inexpensive.


O

ne of the nicest things about being out on the rural landscape is the rustic nature of it all. The experience of living in a home that embodies the characteristics of the land it’s on is something that many people find appealing.

Unfortunately the rustic nature of homes in the country may heighten the risk of wildfire to those homes. Here are a few simple things you can do to start your home on its way to becoming less susceptible to wildfire.


1 2 3 4 1. Roofing

Many rural households use wooden shakes and shingles on their roofs even though they provide almost no protection from wildfire. It is recommended that these types of roofs be replaced every 12 years or so. Replacing that roof with a metal one will increase your home’s resistance to wildfire and will last almost 50 years longer than wood. In the meantime, you can reduce your home’s risk of burning by making sure that it is completely free of any flammable debris. Keep the eaves free of dead leaves and twigs and make sure the roof doesn’t have any pine cones scattered across it.

2.Windows & Walls

The FireSmart Home Owners Manual recommends that instead of simple single pane glass on your windows, use tempered or double pane glass. This will reduce the risk of wildfire to your home and will also save money by trimming down the cost of heating or cooling your home. The manual also prescribes using materials such as stucco or brick instead of wood or vinyl siding on your home or outbuilding’s outside walls. This will help prevent your house from burning down in case of a wildfire.

3.Vents & Eaves

While vents perform the important function of removing trapped moisture from attics, soffits and crawlspaces, they are ready-made openings that can allow heat and embers to enter a home and ignite it. Open eaves present a similar opportunity for fire to ignite. Make sure you screen over any opening and close in your eaves.

4. Decks

Above-ground decks can trap heat from wildfires and ignite the deck as well as the exterior siding of your house. The fire danger is further increased if vegetation, debris or stored combustibles, like firewood, accumulate under the deck. Closing in your deck is your best bet to reduce your risk from wildfire. Sheet in the deck and use pressuretreated lumber or flameresistant building products. Putting rocks or gravel under decks is another option if you cannot enclose it.

Pick up a copy of the FireSmart Home Owners Manual for a complete list of ideas to help make your home FireSmart.

FIRESMART FARM AND ACREAGE MAGAZINE

/9


EASY STEPS TO MAKE YOUR BURN BARREL OR FIRE PIT FIRESMART Don’t let stray sparks from your burn barrel or fire pit start a wildfire. It’s as simple as 1-2-3.

10/FIRESMART FARM AND ACREAGE MAGAZINE


{ * 1

One of the most important things you can do to make sure that you’re not the cause of a wildfire is to make sure that your burn barrels and fire pits are FireSmart.

Always cover your burn barrel with a metal screen. This contains any stray sparks and burning debris that could fly out of the barrel and start a wildfire. Mesh screen with 6 mm or 1/4 inch holes is recommended. You should also ensure your burn barrel has holes drilled in it to ensure proper ventilation and burning.

2 3

REMEMBER,

if you’re in the Forest Protection Area (FPA) of Alberta, you have to get a permit to burn between March 1 and October 31. If you are outside the FPA, you may have to get a permit from your local municipality.

Clear away any debris or grass for at least 3 metres or 10 feet around your burn barrel or fire pit location. Scrape down to mineral soil. You can also surround your barrel or pit with small stones, gravel or sand to contain embers and hot ash.

Choose a site that is at least 30 metres or 100 feet away from any structures or standing trees. The ideal location will be close to a water supply and sheltered from the wind.

Other Burn Barrel and Fire Pit Tips: Get a permit. Never burn in windy conditions (when winds are greater than 12 km/h or 8 mph). Avoid burning in the heat of the day. Light burn barrels in the evening. Have water and tools on hand to help put out your fire. Never leave your fire pit or burn barrel unattended while it is still burning. If you follow these rules and add a little dose of common sense when it comes to fire safety, you can reduce the risk of wildfire to your home and property. FIRESMART FARM AND ACREAGE MAGAZINE

/11


FIRE PERMITS ARE REQUIRED FOR ANY BURNING BETWEEN MARCH 1 AND OCTOBER 31.

Fire permits are free and will be provided to you by Alberta Sustainable Resource Development (SRD) if you live within the Forest Protection Area (FPA), or by your county or municipality if you live outside the FPA.

14/FIRESMART FARM AND ACREAGE MAGAZINE

Once you call either SRD or your local county office to request a permit, a patrolman will visit you to look at your burn site. If everything looks safe to burn, you will be issued a permit. There are terms and conditions associated with the permit and you must adhere to these terms and conditions. If your burn site needs some improvements before it is safe to burn, the patrolman will provide suggestions and will return to issue your permit once the improvements have been made.

Once your permit is issued, it is entered into our database so we know when and where to expect smoke or fire. If you burn without a permit, and smoke or fire is reported that we are not anticipating, we could dispatch firefighters and/or helicopters to put out your fire. This is extremely costly, as well as being a waste of resources, so please make sure you call for a fire permit every time you are planning to do any burning. Seasonal permits are also available for burn barrels and fire pits.


WELCOME TO ALBERTA’S FOREST PROTECTION AREA Alberta Sustainable Resource Development (SRD) is responsible for wildfire protection within the Forest Protection Area (FPA). The FPA covers two-thirds of Alberta or about 33 million hectares of forested land, stretching along the western provincial boundary and reaching across the northern section of the province to the Saskatchewan border (shaded area on the map). This year fire season is designated as March 1- October 31. Fire permits are required for any burning within the FPA (excluding campfires) during this time. Contact your local SRD office to get your FREE fire permit. If you live outside the FPA, fire permits are available from your county or municipality.

If you see smoke or fire in the forest, call 310-FIRE if you live within the Forest Protection Area, or 911 if you live outside the protection area.

FIRESMART FARM AND ACREAGE MAGAZINE

/15


16/FIRESMART FARM AND ACREAGE MAGAZINE


DID YOU KNOW…

Over 30 wildfires are started by off highway vehicles (OHVs) each year in Alberta’s Forest Protection Area. Some of these have resulted in very large and expensive wildfires, and some have threatened homes and communities. Most OHV fires happen in the spring when the snow has melted and there is an abundance of dry grass in the forest.

HOW OHVS START WILDFIRES:

The exhaust system of an OHV can heat up to temperatures in excess of 200 °C. When riders travel through wet areas, muskeg can build up on the exhaust and next to engine hot spots. As the rider travels, the muskeg dries out and is ignited by the hot engine. These burning pieces of muskeg then fall off the OHV, into dry grass, and cause wildfires.

DO YOUR PART TO PREVENT OHV WILDFIRES…

Before you ride, inspect your OHV, and clear out any debris that has built up near the exhaust or other hotspots. Avoid riding in wet areas. If you do ride in a wet area, through muskeg or tall grass, stop and remove all debris from your engine and hotspots before it can dry out, heat up and cause a wildfire. Always carry a small fire extinguisher, collapsible pail and shovel on your OHV. Make sure you extinguish any campfires you have when you are out riding.

Did you know... On June 14, 2009 at approximately 1:00 p.m., a wildfire was started by OHVs five miles southwest of Baptiste Lake. Due to the dry conditions, the fire quickly spread from the grass and into the surrounding spruce trees. The fire was reported and actioned by Sustainable Resource Development crews within 30 minutes. By 4:00 p.m., the fire had grown to 216 hectares (540 acres), and was being actioned by 3 airtanker groups, 4 helicopters, 9 pieces of heavy equipment and over 60 firefighters. The fire was brought under control by the morning of June 16 and cost the Province of Alberta a substantial amount of money to extinguish. OHV fires are unnecessary. Take the time to knock debris from your OHVs.

FIRESMART FARM AND ACREAGE MAGAZINE

/17


Stay calm and follow your plan. There are things you can do inside and outside of your house.


O

n days when the wildfire hazard is extreme, or if wildland fires are burning in your area, be cautious and prepare for a worst-case scenario. Do what you can, but remember that as soon as an evacuation order is given, you must leave. Large moving fires are dangerous and should be left to professional firefighters. 20/FIRESMART FARM AND ACREAGE MAGAZINE


Here’s a checklist of general things you can do to prepare to evacuate:

Preparing the inside of your house

t Ignite no new fires and report any open fires or smoke to authorities.

t Attach inside hoses and gather buckets and towels.

t Close all windows and doors. This will slow down the spread of fire if it does ignite inside the house. t Move combustibles away from windows and sliding glass doors. Don’t give fire a chance to spark! t Fill sinks, bathtubs and buckets for use as extra water reservoirs.

t Check your fire pits and burn barrels to make sure they are fully extinguished. Be careful if smoking outdoors. t Try to remain at home until the fire danger drops. Keep in touch with absent household members. t Keep the radio on all day, tuned to a local station. Have a battery powered radio ready in case of power failure. t Move grazing animals to a central, safe refuge (see more about this on the next page). t Keep pets close to the house. t Place valuable documents, family momentos, computer back ups and other things you cannot replace in your vehicle. t Pack extra food, medications, pet food, money and credit cards, sleeping bags, clothing, toys and games in your vehicle for quick departure. t Ensure your vehicle is fueled and operational. Park it in the garage facing outward, or adjacent to the house in a cleared area that is not blocking access. Make sure the windows are rolled up and the keys are in the ignition.

Outside your home If you have time before you evacuate, there are things you can do to increase your home’s chances of withstanding a wildfire and to help the professional fire fighters when they arrive at your property. t Cover all openings with metal coverings or fire-resistant material such as 12mm plywood. This helps to keep sparks and embers out. t Move any combustibles well away from the house and outbuildings or store them inside. t Attach garden hoses to taps and place them so they can reach any exterior surface of the buildings, including the roofs. t Place a connected sprinkler on the roof and nail it down. Do not turn it on unless the fire is an immediate hazard. t If you have an outdoor pool or hot tub, make it as accessible as possible so firefighters can use the water.

FIRESMART FARM AND ACREAGE MAGAZINE

/21


You’ve got the kids, the family photos and your computer hard drive‌ but what about your livestock?


THE RISK TO FARM ANIMALS AND LIVESTOCK CAN BE REDUCED BY PREPARING AND MAINTAINING FUEL REDUCED AREAS WHERE LIVESTOCK CAN BE MOVED AND HELD DURING A WILDFIRE.

24/FIRESMART FARM AND ACREAGE MAGAZINE

A

livestock evacuation plan is essential for every farmer, rancher and acreage owner. Gathering the kids and your irreplaceables can be complicated enough without worrying about how you are going to round up your farm animals, relocate them and feed them until the threat from wildfire has passed. The risk to farm animals and livestock can be reduced by preparing and maintaining fuel-reduced areas where livestock can be moved and held during a wildfire. Use a plowed or heavily grazed field with a minimum of stubble or grass. If possible, this field should be shaded and located well away from any forested areas and to the leeward side of your property. Water should also be available. Discing or plowing the outside perimeter of the field to make a fire break will help prevent wildfire from jumping into this safety field. Concrete or metal buildings located away from forest vegetation provide another livestock shelter option. If your animals cannot be moved onto a safe area on your property, you will need to make transportation and feeding arrangements at an alternate location. Poultry ranchers will need to be aware of the threat from smoke, and have a relocation plan ready to activate. As a last resort, if you are unable to move livestock into a safe area, cut fences and open gates, turning the animals loose to take their chances with the fire as long as there is no danger to people or vehicular traffic. You might want to consider insurance coverage for all farm resources at risk from wildfire including crops and livestock. Government disaster financial assistance is limited and only covers uninsurable perils. Take the time to make an evacuation plan for your livestock. Wildfires move swiftly, and if there is one approaching your property, you will be glad you have a plan to ensure the safety of your animals.


If a fire starts on my property and spreads to my neighbours, am I responsible for the costs to extinguish that fire?

» Yes, if you are determined to be the responsible party

s e W k s A

you would be responsible to cover any costs incurred to extinguish that fire.

If I have a fire permit and the fire gets away, am I off the hook liability-wise?

» Not necesssarily. An investigation would be launched to determine if you followed the conditions on the permit.

What happens if I burn without a permit?

» The consequences of burning without a permit

EVERY ORGANIZATION HAS A “GO-TO GUY” AND OUR ORGANIZATION IS NO DIFFERENT. WHEN ANYONE HAS A QUESTION THEY DON’T KNOW THE ANSWER TO, THEY ALWAYS... ASK WES! I understand I can get a free fire permit from Alberta Sustainable Resource Development (SRD) if I live in the Forest Protection Area (FPA), but where is that, exactly?

» The FPA is an area encompassing most of northern and western Alberta where SRD has the responsibility for fire permitting, detection and suppression.

vary quite considerably. It’s possible that nothing will happen if your fire does not get away, and the smoke does not draw any attention to the fire. It’s also possible you could be fined under the Forest and Prairie Protection Act. The biggest risk to burning without a permit it that it is possible that firefighting resources like ground crews and even helicopters or water tankers could be dispatched to suppress your fire. You would be responsible for all costs. A permit lets SRD and other firefighting agencies know where to expect smoke. If you don’t have a permit, we assume smoke or flames indicate a wildfire and resources will be dispatched.

If a fire starts along a highway or roadway and spreads to my land, am I responsible for the costs to extinguish the fire?

» No, you are not. If a patrolman comes and does a Wildfire Risk Assessment on my property, am I obligated to make any changes?

» No, you are not obligated to make any changes. Think of the assessment as a way for you to get valuable tips about preventing wildfire from impacting your farm or ranch. You can implement any of the ideas if and when you choose.

Does the information in the Wildfire Risk Assessment affect my property taxes or insurance?

» SRD provides the Wildfire Risk Assessment to you, for your information and action. Copies are not made available to anyone else. Some municipalities and counties may offer breaks on property taxes if you have been assessed as low risk. Check with your local authority for more information. Similarly, some insurance agents may offer discounts for a low Wildfire Risk Assessment. Check with your insurance agent to see if your coverage could be impacted by improvements to your Wildfire Risk Assessment.

FIRESMART FARM AND ACREAGE MAGAZINE

/25


D

4m x 4m is the minimum standard

o you remember the television show Dallas, with that great gate and long winding driveway up to the house? WELL, DO YOU ALSO KNOW WHO SHOT JR? It was the fire chief after the fire truck got stuck under the archway and couldn’t pass the evacuating cars on their way out!

HERE’S A LITTLE BIT OF DRIVEWAY ETIQUETTE TO ENSURE EMERGENCY ACCESS TO YOUR PROPERTY: Driveways should be a minimum of four metres wide to allow for safe access of fire fighting and other emergency vehicles.

Driveways require a minimum of four metres vertical clearance, the full width of the driveway.

26/FIRESMART FARM AND ACREAGE MAGAZINE

Any driveway longer than 90 metres should have a turn-out space to allow fire trucks or other firefighting equipment to pass or to turn around.

Don’t block your access route with gates, archways or other things that will impede the entrance of emergency vehicles. Park your vehicles off to the side and keep clutter from blocking the driveway.

If you have a dugout or other water source like a lake or river, ensure that there is vehicular access to allow trucks to fill with water.


IMAGINE

a convoy of firefighters rushing down the highway, turning off onto your road and having to look for the driveway next to the crooked tree and beside the big rock! A highly visible, fire resistant address sign can be your best friend during fire season. Not all counties and municipalities have a rural addressing initiative like the one shown here. If not, you might want to consider having your own address sign made, of fire resistant materials, and displaying it in a visible area near your driveway and away from tall grass and bushes. Remember, the posts for the sign also need to be fire resistant! A metal sign on a wooden post isn’t going to help you in a fire.

46435 RGE RD 205 FIRESMART FARM AND ACREAGE MAGAZINE

/27


Burning grass and stubble, piles and windrows can be tricky for farmers. HERE ARE SOME TIPS TO ENSURE A SAFE BURN AND PREVENT THE SPREAD OF GROUND FIRES AND PEAT FIRES.

FARMERS FARMERS CIAL FACEE SPE SPECIAL FAC BUR NING BURNING CHA LLENGES CHALLENGES

28/FIRESMART FARM AND ACREAGE MAGAZINE


2/ BURNING GRASS AND STUBBLE Spring and fall burning is always a challenge for farmers. The weather conditions need to be perfect, with not too much wind, not too much heat and the field needs to be prepared to contain the fire from spreading too far, too fast. ƒ Get a fire permit and always follow its conditions when burning grass and stubble. ‚ Avoid burning in the heat of the day – when possible, burn in the evening. ‚ Check your local weather forecast – never burn with winds greater than 12km/hr. ƒ Blade or plow a minimum of five metres around your burn, down to mineral soil. This makes a guard to help prevent the fire from spreading. ƒ Break larger fields down into smaller sections, with fire guards built around each section. This results in more manageable sized fires. Set only the fires that can be controlled at all times by available manpower and equipment. ƒ Ensure that you have adequate supervision, manpower, equipment and water nearby. ƒ Always burn from the outside perimeter, and against the wind. ƒ Never leave a burn unattended. ƒ After the burn is complete, continue to patrol until the fire is completely extinguished.

1/ BURNING WINDROWS

3/ BURNING PILES

Of course you need a permit when planning to burn windrows, and you need to make sure you have sufficient manpower, equipment and water on hand to manage your burn. Here are some other tips to organize your windrow burn:

As with all burning, it’s important to get a fire permit and follow its conditions when burning piles. Pile burning is particularly tricky since it can result in deep ground fires that last long after the surface burning is out.

ƒ Avoid building windrows in muskeg areas.

Here are some guidelines for effective pile burning:

ƒ Use a brush rake or excavator to build windrows when possible. This eliminates as much dirt from the rows as possible and encourages better burning.

ƒ Burn piles when there is snow cover and frozen ground conditions when possible. ƒ Never leave a burn unattended.

ƒ Pack the windrows as tight as possible. ƒ Repile and reburn if necessary, until your pile is gone. ƒ Build windrows across the direction of prevailing wind. ƒ Ensure that windrows are not longer than 60 metres.

ƒ Check piles for hotspots. Use a metal rod to probe the piles for hotspots. Hotspots may smoulder long after the surface fire appears to be out and can come back to life in the spring.

ƒ Ensure that all windrows are 25 metres from standing timber. ƒ Ensure that a minimum of 15 metres of bare mineral soil is created around all windrows.

30/FIRESMART FARM AND ACREAGE MAGAZINE

ƒ Check your piles in March and April to make sure they are completely extinguished since brush piles can burn under the snow all winter!


1

TIP #1 MOW THE GRASS

2

3

It might sound simple, but if you only have the time to do one thing to safeguard your home or property from wildfire then mow the grass! Short grass helps slow down fast-moving grass fires. By keeping the grass short around your house, outbuilding and gas tanks, you will help protect against the spread of wildfire. You can even use livestock to graze around outbuildings to keep the grass trimmed.


FIRESMART FARM & RANCH PRACTICES

*

*

By incorporating some basic FireSmart principles into regular farming and ranching practices, you can reduce the potential for a wildfire to start and limit the impact of a wildfire that threatens your property. FireSmart farming practice is all about managing vegetation.


Dry Grass, Grain Fields, Hay Fields and Pastureland Give yourself, your neighbours, your livestock and the firefighters a chance against wildfire by reducing dry grass and stubble to prevent a fire from escaping from your property, or prevent a wildfire from coming in to your yard. Cut the grass! It sounds simple, but well maintained short grass can be a good fire deterrent. When a swiftly moving grass fire hits a mowed patch of grass, it slows the spread of the fire and sometimes the fire will burn itself out. Grain fields located near or next to building sites should be worked up. At the very least, work up a strip next to the building site to act as a fire guard. Dry stubble in the fields can carry a fire into the yard and with new farming practices of zero till or minimal till, the accumulation of fine, dry fuel is increased. Make one or two passes around the yard before putting your tillage equipment away for the winter, and you’ll go a long way in making your yard FireSmart. If you have hay fields next to the yard, cut them as late in the season as possible to minimize re-growth, or mow a strip next to the building site to act as a fire guard. Allowing livestock to graze in the fields next to the yard in the fall will also help to reduce the amount of vegetation and potential fire hazard. Dry pastureland presents the same challenges to wildfire as hayfields and grain fields. Tilling around the outside perimeter of pastureland will create a fire break that could save your field from burning — or prevent a fire from spreading to your other fields.

Fence Lines and Ditches Unmanaged fence lines and ditches or roadsides usually have a large accumulation of grass, weeds and brush which can act as a wick, carrying intense, quick spreading fires into your yard, fields or building sites. Manage the vegetation along fence lines and ditches leading up to your building sites, or to other values for at least 100 metres in all directions. This can be done by mowing these areas or mowing them once late in the fall. Herbicide or a weed eater can also help minimize the vegetation under the wires and between the posts. Remember to check to ensure that all your corral lines are also free from vegetation that could wick fire into your fenced feed areas.

Feed Storage Dry bales are a magnet for sparks and embers and are always one of the first things to ignite as a wildfire approaches. No matter how you store bales, once they ignite, the fire spreads quickly and is difficult to control or extinguish. Fires can start in stored hay from radiant heat or spontaneous combustion. Spontaneous combustion usually occurs within six weeks of baling, but can occur in old hay and straw as well. Fire can occur in loose or baled hay and straw and is most often caused by excessive moisture. One of the best ways to prevent this is to ensure that the hay is cured to the proper moisture content before baling. To minimize the spread of fire from straw and hay bales to the house and to out-buildings, store bales a good distance from any structures. The area between the bales and buildings should be maintained by reducing the amount of vegetation, preferably down to mineral soil or gravel. If you have grass in this area, it’s critical that it be kept mowed as short as possible. It is a good idea to store your winter supply of bales in a couple of different locations to minimize loss in the event of a fire. Try to use the bales closest to the house and out-buildings during the feeding season. That way when spring comes, you have a larger buffer between the house and out-buildings and the bales. It’s also important to clean up all the old hay and straw that accumulates in these storage areas from broken bales and bale bottoms freezing down over the winter. This can be done by hauling it out on the pasture for the livestock to pick through, or can be spread over the field like you would spread manure. You could also let your livestock graze this leftover hay.

Granaries, Barns, Outbuildings, Unused Land, Open Areas and Dug Outs You can apply any of the vegetation management strategies to granaries, barns and outbuildings to reduce the threat from wildfire. If you cannot easily get into these areas to mow the grass, livestock can make a good job of cleaning up for you. Remember to manage vegetation in old corrals and unused corners of your yard. Mowing, grazing, weed-eating, treating with herbicide or gravelling are all ways you can manage this vegetation. Try to manage vegetation around dugouts and other water sources as well. Not only does this reduce the fire hazard, but it helps provide ready access for firefighters and their equipment. Keep these areas free of equipment, batteries, scrap iron, lumber, posts and other refuse. These items become a safety hazard for the firefighters.

FIRESMART FARM AND ACREAGE MAGAZINE

/33


THREE IMPORTANT QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF


TIP #1POLICY PROVIDE DOES YOUR INSURANCE COVERAGE AGAINST WILDFIRE LOSSES?

People don't always realize the dangers of living with wildfire and they don't always see the potential for losing their homes to wildfire. Homeowners need to be aware of the steps they should take to prevent wildfire and be aware of the insurance consideration before moving or building in high-risk areas.

DOES YOUR INSURANCE POLICY PROVIDE COVERAGE FOR ADDITIONAL LIVING COSTS IN THE EVENT THAT YOU ARE FORCED OUT OF YOUR HOME DUE TO WILDFIRE DAMAGE? This would provide compensation for hotel and restaurant bills as well as any other living expenses you might incur during the reconstruction of your home. You will need to ask your agent about this coverage as reimbursement amounts differ between companies.

DOES YOUR INSURANCE POLICY PROVIDE COVERAGE FOR THE FARM RESOURCES POTENTIALLY AT RISK FROM WILDFIRE? Most insurance policies provide coverage for the repair or replacement of your home. But what about things like your crops, livestock and equipment, and important structures such as barns, shops and outbuildings? Make sure those are addressed in your coverage. Coverage is also available if your home was damaged by smoke or soot. Just because your home was not taken by an actual fire does not mean you are ineligible for coverage. Be sure to ask your agent if this coverage is provided in your policy. Don't let wildfire take you by surprise this summer. Review your insurance policy, implement a plan of action and prepare yourself for the risk of wildfire ahead of time. It could make all the difference!

TIP #2 PUT A FIRE EXTINGUISHER IN EVERY VEHICLE You might not be able to put out a wildfire with a fire extinguisher, but you could prevent one from starting. A fire extinguisher will help extinguish fires started from hot bearings and other equipment fires that could ignite entire fields. Balers are notorious for causing fires. Nothing says “I love you” like a fire extinguisher. Next time you’re searching for that perfect gift for your loved one, think: FIRE EXTINGUISHER!


36/FIRESMART FARM AND ACREAGE MAGAZINE


WOODLOT OWNERS FACE THREATS FROM WILDFIRE If you live on or own a woodlot, sooner or later you may have to contend with the spread of a wildfire that could threaten your livelihood.

O

ver the last 10 years, an average of 1,000 wildfires a year have burned 190,000 hectares of forest annually in Alberta. Wildfires have forced the evacuation of thousands of people from their communities, and have even destroyed some homes and businesses. If you live on or own a woodlot, sooner or later you may have to contend with the spread of a wildfire that could threaten your livelihood. As a responsible woodlot owner you will want to make every effort to prevent an accidental fire or contain a fire that is in your woodlot area.

Be Prepared When working or recreating in your woodlot area be prepared to extinguish an accidental fire by having a water bag complete with a hand pump, shovels, rakes and a pulaski that can be used to construct a handline to mineral soil. A small fire actioned early may avoid the catastrophic impacts of large, severe wildfires. In the event of a large fire in your area, which is more likely in the spring or fall when the grasses are cured, there are a number of proactive options that will assist the municipal or provincial fire responders. Start with a good timber type map and show all roads and trails, and any sources of water that will support a high pressure fire pump.

In addition, identify all power lines, oil and gas installations, pipelines, permanent propane tanks, and log decks or sawmill sites. This identification should include numbering or labeling on a map legend and a GPS location if available. In your harvest plan consider using deciduous strips as fire barriers and plan to thin and prune juvenile coniferous stands that are fire prone.

Communicate Your Plan Visit your local Sustainable Resource Development or Municipal office to present your woodlot values and your fire management map and to discuss your FireSmart residence initiatives. Remember that once a fire is threatening your woodlot you may have to evacuate and rely on the professional firefighters. In this case, your map and FireSmart work are the keys to protecting your investments. More information about safeguarding your home, yard and buildings can be found in the Alberta government’s FireSmart Home Owner’s Manual (*Publication No. I/189 or srd.infocent@gov.ab.ca). To order this manual, contact: Information Centre Main Floor, 9920 - 108 Street Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T5K 2M4 1-780-944-0313

FIRESMART FARM AND ACREAGE MAGAZINE

/37


Are You Disaster Ready? Each year disasters occur across the country, often with little to no warning. Emergency responders and their partner agencies are ready to help, but depend on the community to do its part as well. When disaster strikes, everyone has a role to play. Do you know yours?

photo: Caezer Ng


Disaster struck the Town of Slave Lake on May 15, 2011 when a wildfire, fuelled by high winds, tore through the town. A disaster is an emergency that exceeds the community’s resources. A state of local emergency may be declared and mutual aid will be called for. One of the most important things you can do to be prepared is to be aware of the potential hazards in your community and to know the ways in which emergency messages are provided. When you are instructed to evacuate, do so at once. If a large number of homes are affected, authorities will likely establish a reception centre. These centres may not allow pets, so having a back-up plan for your pet is a good idea. Whether you choose to stay at the reception centre, or elsewhere, ensure you register at the centre. This helps us connect you with friends and family, and it enables us to let you know when it’s safe to return home. It’s also wise to designate a contact person outside of your community and ensure all family members know to “check-in” with that person in the event of a disaster. This way everyone knows where everyone else is in the event you are separated. Write down important information such as key family phone numbers or special needs such as allergies or medications. Ensure each family member carries this information in their wallets, and provide it to at least two out of town contacts. If family members are separated, everyone has access to this information. In case of a hazardous chemical release or other disaster where it is unsafe to go outdoors, you may be instructed to “shelter-in-place,” usually just for a few hours. Take immediate shelter wherever you are — at home, at work, at school. Close all windows and doors, and shut off any fans that draw in outside air. Turn on your local radio or TV station and listen for further instructions. Always ensure you have a battery operated radio and flashlight, with extra batteries on hand. Perhaps the most important thing you can do is ensure your family is prepared to self-sustain for 72 hours (3 days). A 72 hour emergency kit can be homemade or purchased and should contain the basics: enough water and non-perishable food for each family member, first aid kit, manual can opener, hand crank or battery operated radio/flashlight and blankets. Extra clothes, cash and credit cards and special needs items for babies, pets, the elderly and the disabled should also be included. Prepare a memory stick with copies of all important personal information including banking information, passports, birth certificates, medication records, health care information, SINs, pet vaccination records, etc. If you have children, a copy of Child Find information is helpful in case of separation. Comfort items like family photos, a favourite toy and even candy is a good idea. Keep your kit in an easy to carry container that is quickly accessible (for example a Rubbermaid container, knapsack or duffel bag in a designated spot near the door). Everyone has a role to play when disaster strikes. Your role is to be aware of potential hazards, understand and obey emergency instructions and be prepared to self-sustain for 72 hours. Are you disaster ready?

FIRESMART FARM AND ACREAGE MAGAZINE

/39


*PARTING SHOT


SEE SMOKE OR FIRE? CALL IT IN: 310-FIRE If you see smoke or fire in the forest, call the toll-free 310-FIRE (3473) hotline. Your active participation in protecting Alberta’s forests can make a difference. This year wildfire season is from March 1 - October 31. Fire permits are required for any burning in the Forest Protection Area (excluding campfires). Call your local Sustainable Resource Development office or your municipality to get your FREE fire permit.

For more information on wildfire prevention, visit, www.srd.alberta.ca


FireSmart Farm and Acreage Magazine  

This FireSmart Farm and Acreage Magazine presents a wealth of knowledge about the unique challenges farmers, ranchers and acreage owners fac...

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you