FireSmart in Kelowna, to learn how to better protect your home from forest fires

Nearly 200 homes were destroyed during the summer 2023 wildfires in Kelowna. In March, the City appointed a firefighter to give advice to the population on how to protect their homes in the event of a fire.

On a rainy morning in Kelowna, Captain Peter Stantic arrives at Jethro Bushenbaum’s property. The purpose of his visit is to provide him with advice on areas particularly sensitive to conflagration. Your roof looks in good condition and clean, I also imagine that you empty the gutters regularlythe firefighter asks him.

Little by little, the two men tour the house and, very quickly, a detail attracts the specialist’s attention. I see an avenue of cedars on the other side of your fence, they are too close to your house. I know it’s a privacy issue, but maybe you could talk about it with your neighborsays Peter Stantic.

Due to the needles they produce, cedars are particularly flammable trees, especially when the climate is very dry. The length of a cedar’s flame is twice the height of the treeexplains Peter Stantic.

Jethro Bushenbaum, his wife and two children moved into this house at the end of 2020. This is the first time that the owner of Quebec origin has received an expert’s opinion. What he says isn’t surprising, but it’s ideas I hadn’t thought ofhe says.

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Jethro Bushenbaum moved to Kelowna in the fall of 2019, and has owned his home since late 2020.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Camille Pauvarel

Cedar mulch, doormat in front of exterior doors, vegetation at a distance of 0 to 1.50 meters from the home, or even a propane bottle close to the walls of the house, everything is observed by the specialist.

I try to give practical options and steps that are easier at first, so that in the first year we can work on whatever is close to home and then move on to bigger projectsexplains Peter Stantic.

A firefighter for more than 20 years, he is assigned to this mission for the first time, since the City of Kelowna has just set up the service. For Mr. Stantic, who is currently alone in this position, this is not his only occupation.

I am also a part-time trainer and deal with fire protectionhe indicates.

Since 2022, the City has also offered curbside removal and shredding of highly flammable plants and shrubs, to reduce the volume of fuel for forest fires. However, all the May slots were filled within a few hours.

We are counting on neighbors who will take the role of leaders capable of relaying this information in their neighborhoodexplains Peter Stantic, as he walks towards another house nearby.

Know how to prepare for the worst

Jethro Bushenbaum’s home is located right next to Knox Mountain in the north of the city. From its balcony, you can see the mountain McDougallwhich keeps traces of the passage of the 2023 fire.

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Jethro Bushenbaum could watch last summer’s fires from his balcony. He would get up in the middle of the night worried about their progress. “When a house burns, the colors are special. I wondered why some burned more than others,” he says.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Camille Pauvarel

The father of the family has vivid memories of this period.

We watched it in the afternoon, in the evening, I woke up at night to go see. It’s something shocking, you rarely see that. You can see photos, videos and news of fires happening, but when it’s actually in front of you, it changes how you think about fires and houses.

A quote from Jethro Bushenbaum, Kelowna homeowner

Jethro Bushenbaum says seeing some homes burn faster than others made him think about how to better protect his home. However, he says he has a bag ready with all the essential papers so he can evacuate the premises with his family if a fire approaches.

: if we have to go out, we don’t have time. We said to ourselves: you have to have the bags ready, you have to be able to say to yourself “we’re leaving” and not be too attached to things”,”text”:”We saw the trees being affected and we said to ourselves: what if we have to go out, we don’t have time. We said to ourselves: we have to have the bags ready, we have to be able to say “we’re leaving” and not be too attached to things”}}”>We saw the trees being affected and we said to ourselves: “If we have to go out, we don’t have time.” We said to ourselves: “We have to have the bags ready, we have to be able to say to ourselves: we’re leaving, and not be too attached to thingshe summarizes.

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