Is Your Home Fire Smart?

Every year many families lose their homes and possessions to the ravages of wildfire.

It only takes few moments of time to become aware of the safety measures that can reduce the risk of losing your home to wildfire. Only you can decide if it's worth the effort!

Just 10 m of defensible space may save your Home!
(Defensible space is an area around a structure where fuels and vegetation are treated, cleared or reduced to slow the spread of wildfire towards the structure)

[1] Store gasoline and other flammable liquids in approved safety containers and away from occupied buildings.

[2] Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) tanks should be far enough away from buildings for valves to be shut off in case of fire. Keep area clear of flammable vegetation.

[3] Clean roof surfaces and gutters regularly to avoid accumulation of flammable materials.

[4] Maintain a screen constructed of non-flammable material over the flue opening of every chimney or stovepipe. Mesh openings of the screen should not exceed 1 cm.

[5] Remove portions of any tree extending within 3 metres of the flue opening of any stove or chimney.

[6] Remove branches from trees to a height of 3-4.5 metres.

[7] Have fire tools handy such as: ladder long enough to reach the roof, shovel, rake, and bucket for water.

[8] All roads and driveways should be at least 5 metres in width.

[9] Name and address should be posted at driveway entrance.

[10] Clean leaves and flammable debris from around structures.

[11] Each home should have at least 2 different entrance and exit routes.

[12] Fire resistant shrubs should be spaced at least 4.5 metres apart.

[13] Names of roads should be indicated at all intersections.

[14] Garden hose should be connected to outside water outlet.

[15] Dispose of stove or fireplace ashes and charcoal briquettes in a fire safe container.

[16] All combustibles such as firewood, picnic tables, boats, etc., should be kept away from structures.

More Tips...

The roof and exterior structure of your dwelling should be constructed of noncombustible or fire resistant materials such as asphalt roofing shingles, tile, slate, sheet iron, aluminum, brick, or stone. Wood siding, cedar shakes, exterior wood paneling and other highly combustible materials should be treated with fire retardant chemicals.

Check local laws on burning brush. Some communities allow burning only during specified hours; others forbid it entirely. If brush burning is allowed, take the following precautions:

Clear the ground of all flammable materials for at least 3 metres.

  • Have adequate water and fire tools available in case the fire escapes.
  • Don't burn on dry, windy days.
  • Have an adult attend the fire until it is completely out.
  • Notify your local fire department.


Install only approved wood burning fireplaces, stoves, and inserts. Be sure they are installed according to the manufacturers' recommendations and local regulations. When you dispose of your stove or fireplace ashes, place ashes in a fire safe container, then dispose of the cold ashes in a cleared area free of all flammable material.

A fuel break at least ten metres wide should be established and maintained around all structures, this does not mean bare ground. Wider fuel breaks are needed around buildings located on steep slopes or in areas of dense, highly flammable fuels.

The fuel break area may contain single shade trees and ornamental shrubs that do not allow fire to spread rapidly from native vegetation to buildings. Shrubs and trees should be at least 4.5 metres apart. Remove branches from trees to a height of 3 - 4.5 metres to prevent ground fire from spreading to tops of trees. Trees and vegetation should be kept at least 3 metres away from a chimney or stove pipe. Foundation plantings should be of the fire resistant variety and be free of dead and dying vegetation.

An adequate and reliable water supply is essential to protect structures and natural areas from fires. Water can be supplied in rural areas by wells with high volume pumps. Know the location of nearby creeks, rivers, lakes, and ponds so that firefighters can obtain additional water, if needed. Swimming pools may also be considered a source of additional water supply. A garden hose outlet should be installed on the exterior of each dwelling. One hundred feet of hose should be connected to the outlet to be available to protect all sides of the house and roof.

Plan Ahead. Plan a safe escape route for you and your family before a wildfire occurs, and make sure everyone knows the plan. Have a contingency plan so that family memebers know where to meet if they should get separated. Emergency phone numbers should be posted near the telephone.

Abridged from: "It Could Happen to you!- How to Protect your Home." Courtesy of the Northeastern Forest Fire Protection Commission. and "FireSmart Protecting your Community from Wildfire". Partners in Protection.

If you would like more information on how you can reduce the risk of losing your home to wildfire. You can reach us by email . or by mail at :

The Forest Protection Division
Fire Management Group
NS Dept of Natural Resources
PO Box 130,Shubenacadie East
Nova Scotia, Canada. B0N 2H0