Penticton FireSmart wants to see the community step up and have their homes checked by the city's free program now that the area’s drying trend has returned.
The first wildfire in Penticton's area sparked on Monday afternoon, just above homes on the West Bench.
“We're really looking for people to be proactive ahead of the wildfire season, it's a lot easier to do this mitigation before the wildfire is at your back door,” said Miyoko McKeown, FireSmart Coordinator for the City of Penticton.
“One of the benefits of the program is if you are a fire smart certified, you can actually go to the cooperators and receive up to 10 per cent off your property.”
To become FireSmart certified, the first thing to do is to have a Wildfire Mitigation Specialist complete a home assessment. Once the resident has completed any suggestions given by the team, they can become eligible for that insurance discount.
“We'll go over your whole property, the vegetation, everything around the home up to 100 meters around the home, including the home itself. So what it's built out of, the roofing, the siding, windows doors, there's all these boxes you have to check to be certified,” McKeown said.
The team works to turn over those assessments back to the homeowner within five business days.
“This is definitely the time we really want to be seeing people being proactive with FireSmart. We want people cleaning up around their yards, considering some fuel conversion, and just doing the work to build resiliency into their homes and properties and their neighbourhoods,” said Brittany Seibert, the City of Penticton Emergency Program Coordinator.
“Do that mitigation work around your home if that's cleaning out your gutters, really cleaning out that non-combustible zone around your house, getting rid of all that leafy debris that's been left over that's getting super dry this time of year,” McKeown added.
The effectiveness of the FireSmart program has been proven to have a drastic impact on reducing the risk of wildfire.
“We definitely want people to not be complacent, to not forget that wildfire season is still here, it's still happening. And it can happen at a moment's notice,” Siebert said.
Assessment takes approximately anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour depending on the size of the property.
Its recommended for residents to also be prepared with an emergency plan and a grab-and-go bag if evacuation orders come out in their area.
For more information on the program or to set up an assessment, reach out to [email protected]
Residents outside of Penticton in the South Okanagan, visit the RDOS FireSmart website here.