After a summer of wildfires in the South Cariboo, many residents might want to take a break from thinking about the risks and dangers of fire.
But with Fire Prevention Week in full swing across the province from Oct. 3-9, it’s more important than ever to take steps to prevent fires inside and outside your home, according to Forest Grove fire Chief Shannon Wagner.
“If the fire doesn’t start in the first place, then we can work ourselves out of a job,” Wagner said.
The theme of this year’s Fire Prevention Week is “Learn the Sounds of Safety” – with an emphasis on ensuring that smoke detectors are in good working order, as well as carbon monoxide detectors.
Interlakes Deputy Fire Chief Todd Schley said smoke detectors should be installed in every bedroom as well as in the hallway.
Wagner said the crew from Forest Grove’s two halls will be out in the community going door to door this week and next checking detectors and undertaking additional fire prevention awareness measures throughout the neighbourhood.
While ensuring smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working is an essential safety step for all households, Wagner said that this time of year is ideal for cleaning up your property and ensuring the exterior is also as “fire-safe” as possible.
“Now is a good time to remove any of the dead needles, branches, basically anything that’s considered a fuel source,” Wagner said, noting that low-lying branches should be at least two feet off the ground.
“Especially heading into winter and then into spring, all that fuel is still going to be there in the spring. So the quicker they’re cleaned up the better.”
It’s also important to move any source of fuel away from your house, Wagner said, including firewood, fuel cans and anything else that can ignite.
One of the most important things homeowners need to do – especially if they are new to the Cariboo – is check their tax assessment to make sure they are covered by their local fire hall.
“If you don’t see the fire department listed on there, you don’t have coverage,” Wagner said, explaining that there are many reasons a property may be “opted out” of fire coverage.
She said it’s important that your insurance company is aware of your coverage status, and she said to reach out to your local department to discuss options about how to get your property included, if possible.
“We will need to come by and do a site assessment, make sure that your property is accessible or plot out other ways to access the property,” she explained.
For members of the public who want to learn more about fire prevention – or check out where their tax dollars go at their local hall – the Forest Grove Volunteer Fire Department is hosting an open house Saturday Oct. 9 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
COVID-19 safety protocols will be in place, Wagner said.