This past summer my family and I were put on an evacuation alert at our rural BC property due to deteriorating fire conditions. A friend with property north of Kelowna was completely burned out. I have been thinking a lot about fire lately.Apart from the usual, “this is due to global warming,” which this past summer was demonstrably not, the topic is a public policy issue that needs some addressing. According to the Globe and Mail arguing for a $10 billion fund, one dollar spent on fire adaptation results in between three and eight dollars of savings due to loss prevention. Who knows, but it seems reasonable to me. I am not an expert in fire prevention or firefighting. The musings I am about to share may be wildly off the mark and if someone with specific expertise can set me straight, they will be doing us all a service. Here goes.Ten years ago, I read an interesting account of a bush fire that affected ranchers and farmers in northwestern British Columbia. As an uncontrolled fire approached, the landowners were blocked from accessing their property by the RCMP. Recognizing that no one was going to fight for their homes, they built a road around the blockade, returned, and saved their properties and animals. Those who didn’t return lost everything but their insurance. A 2019 article in The Guardian described how other ranchers skirted roadblocks in a different fire to save their herds of cattle.Firefighters do not want a bunch of landowners getting in the way of efforts to contain out-of-control fires and there are serious safety issues at stake. This likely explains the roadblocks. But there is a property rights issue as well. If the government is not going to try and save my property, should I not have the right to do so on my own? I asked that question of the person delivering my evacuation notice and was told that I could remain with my property but could not count on support from the fire crews. This seems to me to be sensible. The cost to the government of saving my rural property is too prohibitive. But nor do I think the government should blockade my efforts. Here is why.I have reports of one intrepid individual who stayed behind to fight for his rural home this summer. He saved his house and that of his neighbour while another twenty homes on the heavily treed property burned to the ground. Wasn’t it dangerous and frightening to be in the midst of an uncontrolled fire?Apparently not. He said that there was very little smoke or heat except in the vicinity of those houses which burst into flames. He had identified an escape route and as long as he kept the roof and ground around the houses wet, there was no danger. The fire passed over the property in a couple of hours.I am now wondering if the effectiveness of the fire adaptation fund could be improved by encouraging, training, and working with rather than blockading those property owners who desire to fight their own fires. The Rural Fire Service of Australia is a partnership that seems to be working. It bears looking into both to save money and to teach citizens to wean themselves from the government’s all-too-available teat. Maybe in the future our newscasts will show long lines of citizen-led stalwarts saving their communities from fire rather than long lines of cars abandoning their communities to those fires.Retired engineer Murray Lytle was a commissioner for the former National Energy Board.