Calgarians need to break out the ashtrays, check their barbecues, and clean up dead leaves as warm weather finally comes to Calgary, the fire department said yesterday.

The Calgary Fire Department launched its annual Intact Insurance Home Safety Program yesterday, which focuses on preventing outdoor fires.

“Winter is over, we’re coming out of hibernation and we are extending our living space to outside the home,” said Dean Krupa, community safety officer.

“Preventing fires from starting outside the home is incredibly important, because fires that burn from the outside in often don’t set off smoke alarms until it is too late for occupants to evacuate,” says Deputy Chief Brad Lorne.

Krupa said people should make their home safer by checking their barbecues, enclosing their house with non-combustible material, keeping bushes trimmed, cleaning up flammable clutter, but especially disposing of cigarettes responsibly.

The city has dealt with four fires in the past two months that have been caused by carelessly discarding cigarettes in debris or plants that contain peat moss. “All fires start small.

It’s a spark, it’s a match, it’s a cigarette, it can lead to an entire neighbourhood being burnt down,” said Lorne. Fire crews will go door-to-door in May through October doing a comprehensive fire safety check. They hope to reach 22,000 residents.

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