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Posted on: May 5, 2020

Banff residents fight wildfire by clearing and removing “fuel”

Tree Fuel

As part of the Banff FireSmart program, all homeowners and residents are encouraged to join firefighters in the May 9 Wildfire Hazards Cleanup Day to reduce the risk of wildfire jumping into town by cleaning up yard debris close to buildings.

“Even though we are in the middle of the COVID health crisis, our community needs to take steps to avert another crisis always looming in the mountain parks,” said Fire Chief Silvio Adamo, who is also the Director of Emergency Management.

“By spending a few hours on Saturday collecting branches, needles and other natural debris, residents can significantly reduce the source of fuel that could allow wildfire to spread into Banff. Homeowners, especially those near the town perimeter, should focus on removing all combustible material or flammable vegetation from within 1.5 metres of your home, and ensure conifers are 10 metres or more away from structures.”

The focus this year is on clearing deadfall. People in the national park are not allowed to remove trees in spring and summer, due to restrictions on protecting nesting birds. Homeowners should identify any coniferous trees growing within 10 metres of their homes and lower branches that could become a flaring torch that can ignite the house, then contact the Town of Banff for a removal permit. For tree removal before August 15, a certified biologist is required to assist and assess if removal can be approved during the restricted cutting period for nesting season.

Dry bark mulch popular with gardeners may also provide a route for embers to spark fires on decks, fences or houses, and should not be used within 1.5 metres of a structure. Certain trees and shrubs should be avoided; rockery junipers, mungo pines or cedar bushes can easily flare up on a hot summer day and ignite the house.

“For Wildfire Hazard Cleanup Day, we need people to take extra measures to be safe. Maintaining 2-metre distancing between others not in your household is critical to avoiding the spread of the virus,” said Adamo. “People should avoid sharing tools and equipment, unless cleaned with at least 70% alcohol solution between users. Neighbourhood teams should meet before Cleanup Day to discuss safety measures to ensure physical distancing, and use of gloves and masks.”

Homeowners can arrange a free, COVID-safe FireSmart house assessment by emailing firedepartment@banff.ca or calling the Fire Department at 403.762.1256.

Free collection of yard debris

The Town of Banff will remove branches, vegetation and yard debris that is piled at curbsides for people who pre-register by calling 403.762.1240 to schedule pickup in the week after Wildfire Hazards Cleanup Day. To receive free pickup, people must ensure:

  • material is vegetation only – no building material, garbage or any other junk, which will not be picked up
  • scrub and brush is placed in neat piles on the edge of property for pickup (do not place on sidewalk or road)
  • no stems or branches are thicker than 10 cm (4 inches)
  • no pieces are longer than 3 metres (10 feet)
  • yard waste (leaves and grass clippings) must be bagged
  • call to schedule pickup at 403.762.1240

Placing yard waste or other waste such as household materials outside neighbourhood bins is illegal. Building materials or household junk will not be collected as part of this FireSmart program. To have unwanted items removed that do not fit in residential waste bins, register for pickup using the online request form at https://pickup.banff.ca/ or call 403.762.1240.

  • For more information on the FireSmart program, visit http://banff.ca/FireSmart.
  • To register for yard debris collection after the May 9 Cleanup Day, call 403.762.1240.
  • Additional resources for homeowners, such as the mobile app and homeowners manual, are available at http://firesmartcanada.ca.


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