TORONTO, Aug. 09, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Colin Robertson, Vice President, Operations and Risk Control at Ecclesiastical Insurance reminds property owners to be prepared for wildfires that have become a summer norm in several provinces. These fires pose an ever-increasing threat to many communities across Canada as evidenced by the current fires in British Columbia and northern Ontario.

As of August 1, 2018, there have been 4,976 wildfires in Canada; a little over the 10-year national average of 4,396 – but a disturbing increase from this time last year when there were 2,275 wildfires over the same period.

Natural Resources Canada  http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/forests/fire-insects-disturbances/fire/13155, cites climate change as the main cause for the increase in fires in Canada’s boreal forests, and predicts a potential doubling of the amount of area burned by the end of this century, compared with amounts burned in recent decades.

There are many pre-emptive measures that can be taken to protect property. The first step is often the most effective — clearing combustible debris away from buildings — including obvious things like dry grass, leaves, brush, stacks of firewood, etc., and some less obvious things like a wood fence and even a wooden deck. Other measures include:  

  • Thinning out or pruning trees that are near buildings and clearing away vegetation from power lines, propane tanks and other fuel supplies.
     
  • Embers can fly into eaves and vent openings and set a building on fire from the interior. Ensure they are free of debris and properly screened.
     
  • Remove leaves and twigs from roofs, fit the chimney with a spark arrestor screen, and maintain in good condition.
     
  • Intense heat can radiate through windows igniting drapes and furniture. Replace fabric window coverings with heat-resistant products; and ideally, install outside non-combustible shutters  which can be quickly closed in an emergency.
     
  • Good access for emergency vehicles is vital. Defensible spaces or fire breaks should stretch out at least 30 feet from a building, and large concentric rings of fuel reduction set further out improve the odds. The clearer the area, the better the chance a fire crew will be able to protect your property.

If evacuating the area and time permits property owners should:

  • Shut off the natural gas supply and electricity to the building.
  • Close exterior windows and shut down the building ventilation system to reduce airflow and prevent smoke from circulating throughout the building.
  • Close all interior doors and fire separation doorways in the hall.
  • Lock entry doors to prevent unauthorized entry and possible looting.
  • Move vehicles away from buildings.
  • Have an emergency preparedness plan in place so employees and visitors to the property know what to do. The plan should include possible exit routes and a safe place to meet if the need to evacuate arises.
  • Prepare a 72-hour emergency supply kit with: water, non-perishable foods, battery-powered radio, flashlight, extra batteries, first aid kit, any prescription medications, sturdy shoes, identification, cash and any special needs items.

Always follow the instructions of your local authorities and take immediate action as instructed to protect persons and property.

Valuable information can be accessed through the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) which publishes a variety of resources related to wildland and rural fire protection https://www.nfpa.org/codes%20and%20standards and through Fire Smart Canada, which has published an on-line manual entitled “Protecting Your Community from Wildfire”  https://www.firesmartcanada.ca/what-is-firesmart/emergency-planning/

About Ecclesiastical Insurance

Founded in 1887 and with offices in Canada since 1972, Ecclesiastical Insurance is a specialist insurance provider. Working closely with the national independent broker network, Ecclesiastical provides customized insurance solutions and services to faith organizations, retirement communities, education facilities, arts & culture institutions, funeral services providers and registered charities and non-profit groups. For more information visit www.ecclesiastical.ca

Contact:

Colin Robertson, Vice President, Operations and Risk Control
(416) 484‑3984
crobertson@eccles-ins.com