Here is what is being done to prevent forest fires on the North Shore

Darrian Matassa-Fung / November 1, 2018

In lieu of the deadliest forest fires in California state history, we asked; What measures are in place to mitigate the spread of forest fires on the North Shore?

Fiona Dercole, Director at North Shore Emergency Management, said that there are a number of preventative measures in place.

“The District of North Vancouver has invested in operation fuel treatments, basically thinning the forest between urban area and forested area so there is a bit of a buffer there so the trees aren’t so close together, so there’s not as many ladder fuels so it creates a small fire break.” Fiona Dercole – Director at North Shore Emergency Management

Fuel treatment involves managing vegetation that can be fuel to forest fires. This means removing small trees, brush, and accumulations of dried materials that can easily catch on fire. These materials are referred to as “ladder fuels”.

“The municipalities on the North Shore have a Wildfire Development Permit Area. Developers have to use fire resisting building materials and they have to use fire resistant landscaping plans so homes built close to the forest are more fire resistant.” Fiona Dercole – Director at North Shore Emergency Management

A Wildfire Hazard Development Permit Area is used to minimize the risk to people and property from wildfires.

If a structure is built in the permit area they must follow strict guidelines to limit the spread of forest fires.

The guidelines include what building materials and landscaping plans to employ near the structures.

Here is a map showing the Wildfire Hazard Development Permit Area.

Wildfire Hazard Development Permit Area / District of North Vancouver

The municipal fire departments have a sprinkler protection unit as well.

“Municipal fire departments role is structure protection they have sprinkler protection units which are long sprinklers connected by hoses in series so they can lay those out to wet down homes that are on the fire interface if they think a fire could be advancing.” Fiona Dercole – Director at North Shore Emergency Management

According to the Union of British Columbia Municipalities, the sprinkler protection unit (SPU) is designed to protect urban areas against wildfires. They are used to dampen roofs and areas around structures, to help prevent sparks and embers from igniting structural fires.

One UBCM owned SPU contains about 350 sprinklers and can protect between 30 and 35 homes.

Dan Pistilli, Fire Chief for the City of North Vancouver Fire Department said that, in addition to sprinklers, proper construction of homes plays a big roles in prevention or mitigation forest fires ability to spread.

“The type of construction makes a difference such as using asphalt shingles versus cedar shake shingles. The trees in and around the property and preventative measures are a big piece of it as well” – Dan Pistilli / Fire Chief, City of North Vancouver Fire Department

The forest fires in the summers of 2017 and 2018 have strained fire fighters across B.C. However, measures taken in the North Shore highlight the importance of prevention and mitigation as key factors in managing containment of forest fires.

With files from Kareem Gouda