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Community Fire Prevention

West Carleton is surrounded by beautiful nature and forests. Our forests are habitats for many species both at risk and common. We are very fortunate to be so close to nature, but with such closeness comes risk. The forest and wooded areas that are all around us are a potential for destructive wildfires. We as community members have a role to play in safeguarding and protecting those areas and our homes from possible destruction.


The West Carleton region has historically been vulnerable to large forest fire destruction. The Fire of 1955 destroyed much of the area and changed the communities forever. With increased population and climate change, the risk that history could repeat itself is real. In the country, brush fires are very common especially in the spring and can become unmanageable very quickly. Wildfire embers can travel several kilometres. Even backyard campfires can become potential for widespread fire into the surrounding wild area like the Carp Hills. These fires have the potential to take lives, destroy property and kill wildlife.

Extreme wildfire conditions and loss of life and property are increasing. Residents play a key role in reducing the risks of both igniting and spreading of wildfires. There are steps that homeowners can take to plan ahead for emergencies and to prepare their homes to withstand ember attacks and minimize the likelihood of flames or embers igniting structures or property.


WCDR has worked with Fire Smart Ontario and our local Fire Chief to provide this information for West Carleton Residents in order to increase the level of our preparedness. We also thank the Canadian Red Cross for funding the printing and distribution of our brochure.


Speak with your family about what you'll do if a wildfire threatens your life and your home. Download Fire Smart Canada’s Fire Smart Begins at Home manual or app to do a complete self-assessment of your home. That way if a fire comes you'll have a plan which will help you take action and avoid making last-minute decisions that could prove deadly.

Knowing when to leave, where to go and which way to go could save your life.

Let's be fire smart and let's work together to reduce the risk.

Reduce Your Property Damage Risk

Regular upkeep in your fire prevention zones will help to 

reduce your wildfire risk.


Scientists examined the Fort McMurray fire and concluded that 

few homes caught fire due to direct contact with the flames or

heat from the burning forest. The fire spread so quickly into

areas with homes because embers ignited combustible

material such as dry grass, leaves, pine needles, fences,

patio decks, woodpiles, evergreens and shrubs that were too

close to homes.


   Zone 1: 1.5-10 Metres  

Between 1.5-10 Metres should be a fire-resistant zone, free of all materials that could easily ignite from a wildfire.

Changes within 10 metres of your home will have the biggest impact on reducing the threat of wildfire. Fire embers may seem small but are not to be underestimated— 50 % of the homes that burn from wildfires are started by sparks and embers. Regular maintenance and cleaning in the corners and crevices of your home and yard where needles and debris build-up will leave nothing for embers to ignite. Remember to remove any windblown leaves under the deck as well as any flammable debris from balconies and patios. 

  • Maintain a fire-resistant zone, free of all materials that could easily ignite from a wildfire.

  • Consider landscaping, fire-resistant plants, plants to avoid (cedar, juniper, pine, spruce, tall grass), bark mulch, piles of firewood.

  • Consider roof, chimney, gutters, eaves and vents and siding: they need to be free of debris and materials or openings that allow sparks to ignite.

  • Consider windows, doors, ground to siding clearance

  • Consider decks, fences and other attachments to your home. Do they provide a path for fire to your home?

   Zone 2:  10-30 Metres 

Manage debris and evergreen trees in Zone 2

  • Thin and prune evergreen trees to reduce hazards in this area.

  • Regularly clean up accumulations of fallen branches, dry grass and needles from on the ground to eliminate potential surface fuels.

  • Be sure to clean debris, dry leaves, twigs and branches, rot in trees and combustible shrubs. Clear dead branches from trees and avoid pine, spruce, cedar and fir in this zone.

   Zone 3: 30-100 Metres   

Taking FireSmart actions in Zone 3 will influence how a wildfire approaches your home. You can change the dynamics of wildfire behaviour by manipulating vegetation within this zone. FireSmart treatments within the Non-combustible Zone, Zone 1 and Zone 2 can influence the amount of work necessary in Zone 3.

  • Look for opportunities to create a fire break by creating space between trees and other potentially flammable vegetation. Thinning and pruning are effective here as well. These actions will help reduce the intensity of a wildfire.

  • Ensure that evergreen trees are at least 3 metres apart.

  • Remove branches within 2 metres of the ground from trees within 100 metres of your house, on your own property.

  • Clean woody debris, small trees and combustible shrubs from the ground.

As seen in the Fort McMurray wildfire, homes that were more fire-resistant were less likely to burn. Home renovations and upgrades can be costly and time-consuming. FireSmart focuses on what is realistic for you to achieve in order to limit the risk of wildfire to your home. Integrate FireSmart into your long term renovations and incorporate yard clean up to reduce your risk of damage from wildfire

Click a number on the house to view the Fire Smart Canada recommendations for these areas of your home.

  Non-Combustible Zone - Your Home  

A minimum 1.5 metre non- combustible surface should extend around the entire home and any attachments, such as decks.



  • Properly dispose of cigarette butts, keep camp and brush fires under control and extinguish fully.

  • During wildfires, most homes that burn are ignited by wind-blown sparks and embers which can travel up to 2 km. Think in advance about where they might land around your home, and take steps to reduce this risk. 

  • Ensure to regularly check your fire prevention zones and reduce the number of combustible materials on and near your property. Discuss with your municipality if there is a risk on their land near your property. 

  • If performing any upgrades to your building or property chose Fire Smart Materials.

  • Report any suspicious fires to the Fire Department 613-232-1551


  • Fires, including wildfires, are generally covered under property insurance policies but it is always best to check that your insurance is up to date and fits your needs. Important items to consider are:

    • ​Do you have replacement cost or actual cash value insurance? Most home policies cover replacement cost and secondary dealings, such as cottages, generally only cover cash value. While both types of coverage help with the costs of rebuilding your home or replacing damaged items after a covered loss, actual cash value policies are based on the items' depreciated value while replacement cost coverage does not account for depreciation.

    • Also find out if you have by-law coverage, if you do not have adequate by-law coverage cost associated with bring your home to today's code may not be fully paid. 

  • Go to to find more information.

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  • Yearly Open Air Fire permits are required and are permitted ONLY in rural areas (not within village boundaries) and under specific conditions.  

  • Follow the rules of the City’s Open Air Fire By-law 2004-163 including:

    • Material to be burned is 2 - 3 metres or less or is in a burn drum

    • When material to be burned is 2 metres or less, the location must be >30 metres from any building, hedge, fence, overhead wiring

    • When material is between 2 – 3 metres, this distance increases to 60 meters away from buildings, etc.

    • Constant watch and control by an adult over 18

    • Access to rakes, shovels, and water to extinguish the fire



  • A permit is required in order to light a fire on private property; this includes having a backyard fire, using a large fire pit or burning brush.

  • Obtain a City of Ottawa Fire Permit Online and follow the rules, such as:

    • A small campfire, chiminea or outdoor fireplace should be at least 5 metres from houses, trees, fences, structures, etc.

  • When burning pre-position a garden hose ready to use in case the fire gets out of control.


  • Pre-position a garden hose and a shovel ready to use in case the fire gets out of control.

  • When you are finished enjoying your fire, make sure your fire is completely out by spraying thoroughly with water.





  • Back your vehicle ready to go in the driveway.​

  • Put your emergency supplies in the car.

  • Check your evacuation list to ensure you have everything packed.


  • Follow the directions provided by the authorities. 

  • Follow local news media. 

  • Call a designated relative or friend, so they can tell loved
    ones that you are safe.


  • To help the emergency services stay off the phone as much as possible.

  • Keep your emergency call to designated relatives short and to the point.

  • Cellular services can be easily overwhelmed during emergencies due to the volume of calls.


  • Stand by to evacuate and remember: DON'T TAKE UNNECESSARY RISKS.

  • If you see smoke or flames, act immediately to survive. Don't wait for a text message, a knock at the door or for emergency services to turn up at your house.



  • Property can be replaced but human lives cannot.

  • If you need to evacuate meet at a safe location well away from the fire.


In Case of Emergency:


If your controlled fire becomes out of control, take immediate action:

  • For backyard campfire if possible and not dangerous use your prepositioned garden hose to extinguish or reduce the spread. Call 911 and provide the location, tell them if people or structures are in danger.

  • For out of control brush fires call 911 immediately, time is of the essence. Brush fires can spread rapidly and become out of control very quickly. The potential for widespread destruction is greater especially during dry and windy conditions.

  • In the event that your fire becomes out of control take evasive action, and follow the fire department and City evacuation plan.

  • Remember, do not take unnecessary risks, your life is important. Property can be replaced but lives can't.


If you see any smoke or flames, act immediately to survive. Don't wait for a text message, a knock at the door or for emergency services to turn up at your house.



  • Only enter your house once authorities say it is safe to do so.

  • Do not attempt to recover belongings if the area is not secure.


  • If there are any residual burning embers, and/or if you smell gas or smoke, leave immediately and inform the fire department.​


  • Appliances that have been exposed to fire or water pose a risk of shock or fire when turned on. Do not use any appliances, heating, pressure, or sewage system until electrical components have been thoroughly cleaned, dried, and inspected by a qualified individual.


  • Verify that your sump pump and well are in working condition.


  • Take a visual inventory of damage both outside and inside.

  • First, walk the perimeter of your property to check if there has been damage to the foundation, the roof or any utility lines.

  • When you enter, look at the floors and ceiling to ensure they are not drooping.

  • Document details of any damage. 

  • Contact your insurance provider to share this information.



Use extreme caution when returning home​

There are many hazards present after a wildfire.


During and after a disaster such as a wildfire WDCR and their partners will be here to help. Registration for both with WCDR and Red Cross will open during a disaster event for those who are in affected areas. 

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