By Lyonel Doherty

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Procrastination and complacency are the two attitudes that people can no longer afford in the summertime.

For years these attitudes were my best friends as they fooled me into thinking that my home and property were safe from wildfire. But did you know that 50 per cent of homes burned by these fires are ignited by sparks or embers? And that these sparks can be carried by wind for more than two kilometres?

When my neighbours started banding together to work on a Firesmart plan I didn’t really take it seriously. It looked like a lot of work, and quite frankly, I was lazy . . . until I noticed the thick bed of pine needles next to my house and the overhanging tree branches touching my eaves.

Then I started reading amazing stories about the homes left standing during wildfires, while others nearby were destroyed. Why? Because of Firesmart principles.

I didn’t want to be like those people who lost their biggest investment. I didn’t want to be sick with regret and overtaken by guilt because my family lost their home due to my procrastination. So, I got out my stepladder and a pair of shears and spent 20 minutes pruning back the dead branches from the corner of my house. Feeling damn good about that, I spent another 30 minutes raking up all the pine needles. I was a new man! After lunch, I went back out and removed some pine tree limbs (two metres up from the ground), and walked around my home to ensure that all combustibles (wood, leaves, bark mulch) were at least 1.5 metres away from the structure.

Procrastination and complacency were no longer my friends because I told them to get out of my house and stop drinking my beer.

Seriously, though, all this work only took about one hour and 30 minutes, and now my investment is much safer heading into summer. I even took it a step further by getting a free home assessment done by a Firesmart official.

Did you know that your neighbourhood can receive a Firesmart grant to host a clean-up day, complete with barbecue and prizes? That’s what we did on our crescent, which eventually led to us to obtain Firesmart certification. Peace of mind is everything, and just so you know, I never saw procrastination and complacency again. 

For more tips and information, visit www.firesmart