Maple Ridge wildfire plan being adjusted to realities

To require homes within the wildfire development permit area to use fire-resistant materials.

Maple Ridge is tweaking the wildfire protection regulations it passed a few years ago in an attempt to slow the pace of a potential forest fire.

One change is to require homes within the wildfire development permit area to use fire-resistant materials, such as cement board or stucco on exterior walls facing forests.

Previously, builders had the option of installing sprinklers on outside walls, which could be activated in case of fire. But that’s now considered impractical and could reduce the supply of water needed when fighting a fire.

Instead, the intent is to change the wildfire development permit area to require the use of fire resistant materials, which will add about $2,000 to the cost of a house.

Another change involves ditching the required distance of 20 metres between buildings. That’s not practical in dense suburban developments and will be replaced by requiring certain landscaping in areas in suburbs, as well as the use of fire-resistant materials.

The requirement to have at least 3.7 metres space for each lane in a road will also be scratched in return for identifying certain areas where there are passing lanes.

So far, three development permits have been issued under the wildfire protection area.

The previous guidelines were based on those set out in the National Fire Protection Association.

The proposals so far have received first reading.