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FireSmart Canada

What is FireSmart?

FireSmart Canada leads the development of resources and programs designed to empower the public and increase neighbourhood resilience to wildfire across Canada.

FireSmart Canada is a national organization, designed to help Canadians understand and mitigate wildfire risks around their homes and on their property. Developed by the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre (CIFFC), FireSmart is a private, non-profit corporation providing wildfire management services to its member agencies (10 provinces, 2 territories, and 2 federal departments) to improve wildfire management across Canada. 

How can I FireSmart my home?


Removing fuel from around your home makes it virtually impossible for fires to spread or continue growing. When there are no fuels that the fire can catch and ignite, fire will not spread; it will lose intensity and burn out. 

For this reason, FireSmart Canada recommends making the first 10 metres from your home a non-combustible area. The 10m zone acts as a buffer to encroaching fire, and reduces the chances of your home being negatively affected. If there are no fuels around your home and structures for the fire to consume, it cannot grow and destroy more.

What is the Home Ignition Zone?

Implementing recommended mitigation strategies in these zones can increase your homes resiliency and increase the likelihood of it surviving a wildfire.  Each building on your property should be assessed using their own home ignition zones, and the same recommendations apply for all outbuildings

These zones extend out from buildings as follows:

  1. Immediate Zone - 0 to 1.5 meters (non-combustible zone)
  2. Intermediate Zone - 1.5 to 10 meters (non-combustible zone)
  3. Extended Zone - 10 to 30 meters 

1. Immediate Zone (Non-Combustible Zone) - 0-1.5 meters

The Immediate Zone is a non-combustible area that starts at the house and extends to 1.5m perimeter around the home and attached structures; this includes decks. 

Some things you can do within the immediate zone to help keep your home FireSmart:

  • Clear vegetation and combustible materials down to the soil, and use non-combustible materials such as gravel, brick or concrete as the landscaping material in gardens.
  • Avoid using woody materials and mulch in this zone (highly flammable and can easily ignite).
  • Avoid gutters and eaves filled with debris, remove accumulate leaves and needles from roof, and remove accumulated piles of dead leaves and combustibles.
  • Avoid gutters filled with leaves and needles; the majority of homes do not survive wildfires due to accumulated debris on the roof and gutters (which easily ignite).
  • Remove combustible material and debris from under decks and porches. Regularly clean and maintain this area.

2. Intermediate Zone (Non-Combustible Zone) - 1.5-10 meters

Elements within the Intermediate Zone are managed so that they don't transmit fire to your home.

Some things you can do within the intermediate zone to help keep your home FireSmart:

  • Plant fire resistant vegetation, and select non-combustible landscaping materials (for example; gravel, crushed rock or bare mineral soil).
  • Avoid planting flammable vegetation or using woody materials such as mulch or bark in gardens.
  • Keep combustibles like firewood piles, construction materials, toys, patio furniture, tools and decorative pieces out of this zone. Store these items inside a mitigated outbuilding or shed.
  • Prune any evergreen trees 2 meters up from the ground, and space them 3 meters apart.

3. Extended Zone  - 10-30 meters

The goal in this zone is not to eliminate fire, but to reduce the intensity of it.

Some things you can do within the extended zone to help keep your home FireSmart:

  • Remove all branches on trees 2 meters up from the ground. By having a 2 meter firebreak, you educe the chances of a surface fire moving into the crown (or top) of the tree.
  • Clean up leaves, fallen branches, tree needles and dead grass regularly to eliminate combustible surface fuels.
  • Dry and dead vegetation can react like a match being struck, and may ignite from a small ember; regularly remove accumulated dead vegetation from your yard.

How can I create a FireSmart Garden?

Bark mulch, pine needle mulches, other plant-based mulches and felt/fabric landscaping materials are susceptible to ignition from wildfire embers, and cigarettes, increasing the threat to your home and property. Consider using gravel mulch, rock mulch, or a combination of rock mulch and plant mulch to reduce your risk. 
When planning your garden, try incorporating fire-resistant vegetation. Highly flammable vegetation can be dangerous when planted around your home, especially in the first 10 metres. 

Highly flammable plants will have the follow characteristics:

  • Leaves that have a strong odour when crushed.
  • Stems or branches that have a gummy, sticky sap with a strong odour.
  • Fine, dry material such as loose papery bark, twigs, needles and leaves with the plant.

There are no fire-proof plants. However, these characteristics are found in plants with fire-resistant properties. This vegetation does not provide significant fuel or increase fire intensity- UNLESS they are left neglected and dead materials accumulate:

  • Moist, broad leaves
  • Water-like sap with little or no odour
  • Limited build-up of dead plant material

What are some recommended plants for my FireSmart garden?

For more information on plants for your FireSmart garden, please visit FireSmart Canada's Guide to Landscaping

Examples of recommended plants:

  • Birches
  • Hawthorn
  • Maples
  • Red Oak
  • Boxwood (non-native)
  • Dogwoods
  • Ash trees
  • Lilac (non-native)

What should I avoid planting in my FireSmart garden?

Examples of plants to avoid:

  • Arborvitae
  • Cedar
  • Fir trees
  • Hemlock
  • Larch (juniper)
  • Pines
  • Spruce
  • Yew
  • Pampas Grass
  • Fountain Grass 

Mowing your lawn can be a great first step in having a FireSmart yard. Grasses shorter than 10cm are not as likely to burn intensely. Click the landscaping guide for information regarding what vegetation and plants to incorporate into your FireSmart garden. 

FireSmart Resources

Home Ignition Zone Poster (FireSmart Canada) (4.4MB)

FireSmart Canada Home Development Guide

FireSmart Guide to Landscaping 

How can I learn more about FireSmart?

Please visit FireSmart Canada, or contact PEI's FireSmart Coordinator:

Emily Foster,
FireSmart Coordinator 

Date de publication : 
le 12 Mars 2024
Environnement, Énergie et Action climatique

Renseignements généraux

Division des forêts, de la pêche et de la faune
Pépinière J. Frank Gaudet 
183, chemin Upton
C.P. 2000
Charlottetown (Î.-P.-É.)  C1A 7N8

Téléphone : 902-368-6450

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