Steve Dodge prunes lower limbs from a conifer tree in someone’s yard, which helps reduce the chance of fire spreading. (Quesnel Cariboo Observer File Photo)

FireSmart Feature: Steve Dodge and composite decking

Dodge replaced an aging wood deck with one made of composite, fire-resistant materials.

Although the past couple of summers in Quesnel have been rainy, the recent wildfire smoke that engulfed our community is an important reminder of the 2017 and 2018 wildfire seasons and of dry years to come.

The City of Quesnel’s Local FireSmart Representative (LFR), Amanda Vibert, was able to catch up with Steve Dodge, the manager of the former United Way FireSmart program, who has taken this summer to do FireSmart projects around his Quesnel home.

“The 2020 almost-non-existent fire season has been the perfect time to continue with the FireSmarting activities that were first identified following the 2017 season. The cool and mostly wet weather has made it easier to remove my cedar trees and stumps and install my new composite deck,” said Dodge.

This summer, Dodge replaced an aging wood deck with one made of composite, fire-resistant materials. Traditional slatted wood decks are vulnerable to fires, but building with a fire-rated deck product can reduce the risk, potentially saving not only the deck, but the entire home. During wildfires, airborne embers can travel up to two kilometres in the wind and can land on your roof, in your yard or on your deck.

FireSmart Canada reminds us that it’s not only the materials used to build the deck that are important, but also the presence of combustible materials stored under your deck and the vegetation around it. Get in the habit of regularly raking up leaves from under your deck and don’t store items around it that could act as fuel for embers, such as woodpiles. Ideally, sheath the underside of the deck with non-combustible sheathing, such as fibre cement board or metal screening.

READ MORE: Quesnel’s United Way Fire Mitigation Project has been a success so far

FireSmart works as a prevention measure, so it’s never too early to start — but it can be too late.

“Although the 2017 and 2018 fire seasons are starting to fade from memory, when smoke is enveloping the city and flames can be seen on the horizon, it’s time to start packing your bags, not pruning your conifers!” says Dodge.

For more information on how you can get started, visit or email the City of Quesnel’s Forestry Initiatives Program at

Submitted by Amanda Vibert. Amanda is the contracted Local FireSmart Representative with the City of Quesnel’s Forestry Initiatives Program.

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