FireSmart: Check your non-combustible zone

Brandy Walters
Slave Lake FireSmart

It’s official that spring has (finally) sprung and, with the snow melted away, you’ll be able to assess your home’s ‘non-combustible zone’. This zone is the area that is 0 – 1.5 meters away from your house, top to bottom. To be FireSmart, it includes all the parts and pieces you will want to make non-combustible when you have the chance.

It’s things like your roofing material – is it metal, tile, asphalt shingles, or ULC-rated shakes? These are excellent non-combustible choices. Whatever the material that’s covering your roof, is the roof cleared off of combustible materials like leaf litter and mosses? Double check the inside corners on your roof too. Those are the likely places debris and embers will easily collect.

If your eaves and gutter pipes are cleaned, your vents and openings are screened, this is an excellent step towards making sure your home has a well-prepped non-combustible zone. Same goes for your balcony, decks and porches – all cleaned off and properly skirted? That’s the way to do it!

Tempered, double-paned windows are recommended because single-paned windows provide little resistance to heat from a wildfire. Doors into your home should be fire rated and have a good seal. And remember – the garage has a door too!

Stucco, metal siding, brick/concrete and fibre cement siding offer superior fire resistance. Truth be told, even logs and heavy timbers are still reasonably effective against wildfire. Unfortunately, in any FireSmart zone, untreated wood and vinyl siding offer very little protection against wildfire.

Think about wooden fences and boardwalks. They create a direct path from a wildfire to a home or buildings. Separating your house from a wooden fence, maybe with a metal gate, can slow down a wildfire. And remember to keep the grass short all along the fence line.

You probably remember that leafy plant material is better to have up close to the house and needle plant material at least 10 metres away. Consider using rocks around your house instead of plant-based mulches, at least for 0 – 1.5 m in that ‘non-combustible zone’.

Thanks to everyone for coming out and visiting our Tradeshow booth in Slave Lake in early May. It was an excellent turnout where we happily gave away leafy plants, kneeling cushions and work gloves to raise your comfort levels while out in the yard. Would you like a free FireSmart assessment of your non-combustible zone? Message us on Facebook or give us a call at 780-516-0077. We’re here to help you get prepared. Keep up the good FireSmart work, everyone, and stay connected with us through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and our website,

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