Wildfire and interface fires

Much of North Cowichan is situated near forests, including the 5,000 hectare Municipal Forest Reserve. With this proximity to nature and recreation comes the threat of a wildfire, especially as our summers become warmer and drier.

The North Cowichan Fire Department and the Forestry Department prioritize training and response to keep our communities and forests safe. Residents and businesses can also do their part by taking steps to protect and prepare homes and properties.

What to do before a wildfire begins

  • Know what the current fire danger rating is and follow bans on fires (visit https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/wildfire-status/prepare/weather-fire-danger/fire-danger for the current fire danger rating)
    • Low: Fires may start easily and spread quickly but there will be minimal involvement of deeper fuel layers or larger fuels.
    • Moderate: Forest fuels are drying and there is an increased risk of surface fires starting. Carry out any forest activities with caution.
    • High: Forest fuels are very dry and the fire risk is serious. New fires may start easily, burn vigorously, and challenge fire suppression efforts. Extreme caution must be used in any forest activities. Open burning and industrial activities may be restricted.
    • Extreme: Extremely dry forest fuels and the fire risk is very serious. New fires will start easily, spread rapidly, and challenge fire suppression efforts. General forest activities may be restricted, including open burning, industrial activities and campfires.
  • Develop your emergency plan, keep it up to date, and review it with members of your household
  • Put together your grab-and-go bags 
  • Know the difference between an evacuation alert and order.
  • Ensure your home insurance is up-to-date and includes adequate coverage for fire damage.
  • Protect your property by completing a FireSmart assessment.
  • Sign up for Alertable, the emergency notification system used by North Cowichan and Emergency Management Cowichan. 
  • Report wildfires: If you see the fire, dial 911 and report it! (or call *5555 from a cell phone)

FireSmart your property

The North Cowichan Forestry Department oversees extensive FireSmart work within the 5,000 hectare Municipal Forest Reserve.

You can protect your property by completing a FireSmart assessment. Here’s how:

  1. Create a defensible space around your home. This involves removing flammable vegetation and creating a buffer zone that can help prevent a wildfire from spreading.
  2. Seasonal maintenance – Make sure that your roof, vents, and gutters are clear of debris.
  3. When updating or renovating your home or property, use fire-resistant building materials, fire-resistant plants and landscaping materials, and keep a defensible space around all structures.
  4. Develop an emergency plan in case of a wildfire and make sure that you and your family are prepared to evacuate if necessary.
  5. Engage your neighbours and community to promote FireSmart practices and encourage others to act to reduce their wildfire risk.

Download the step-by-step BC Firesmart Home Ignition Zone Assessment for full details:

Download the FireSmart Assessment Guide

North Cowichan’s Forestry Department also does a limited number free home assessments each year. Contact parksrec@northcowichan.ca or call 250-746-3106 for information.