Health & Safety

June 20, 2014

Preparing your home to be fire adapted

Timothy Hiltner
Fire Prevention Inspector

Wildfire season is in full effect with many states reporting significant wildfire activity.

In California, fires have forced more than 20,000 people to be evacuated this year. In Texas, more than 75 homes were destroyed by wildfire.

Fire departments nationwide are encouraging residents with wildfire risk to be actively preparing for the upcoming season with the help of programs like, Ready, Set, Go! The Ready, Set, Go! managed by the International Association of Fire Chiefs, seeks to develop and improve the dialogue between fire departments and the residents they serve.

Ready – Be ready, be Firewise

Take personal responsibility and prepare long before the threat of a wildland fire.

Clear brush 30 feet away from your home. Use fire-resistant landscaping and harden your home with fire-safe construction measures.

Assemble emergency supplies and belongings in a safe place.

Plan escape routes and make sure all those residing within the home know the plan of action. ?

Set – Situational awareness

Pack your emergency items.
Be aware of the latest news and information on the fire from local media outlets, social media, and your local emergency responders.

Go – Act early!

Follow your personal wildland fire action plan. Doing so will not only support your safety, but will allow firefighters to best maneuver resources to combat the fire.

Homeowners are building new homes deeper into “natural beauty settings” such as mountain view areas that allow them to take advantage of the privacy and recreational opportunities. Neighborhoods are also being developed to accommodate the influx of the nature hunters.

As a result, fire departments are responding to fires involving Wildland Urban Interface (WUI), in areas where homes are constructed near or among lands prone to wildland fire. Depending on the area of the country, fire departments might refer to wildland fires as brush fires, forest fires or rangeland fires, however, they are all part of the WUI and all pose the same threat to local assets.

The increase in the WUI threat has been steep because of continued development and exposure. The WUI is a set of conditions that can exist in nearly every community. It can be a major subdivision or it can be four homes on an open range.

Another factor that is of concern for WUI areas is wind-blown embers. Most structures within the WUI are not destroyed from the wildland fire, but from embers blown around due to weather conditions. Embers may be encountered well before any fire can be seen because winds carry embers over long distances. These embers fall or are wind-driven into easily combustible fuels at structures, often going undetected for some time.

As the fire front passes, these small embers may ignite incipient fires that spread to the home and then from home to home in a neighborhood.

The Ready, Set, Go! Program helps fire departments deliver the preparedness and situational awareness message to address these threats.

Maintaining the Firewise landscape

  • Keep trees and shrubs pruned six to ten feet from the ground
  • Remove leaf clutter and dead, overhanging branches
  • Mow the lawn regularly and dispose of cutting and debris promptly
  • Store firewood away from the house
  • Maintain the irrigation system regularly
  • Familiarize yourself with local regulations regarding vegetative clearance, debris disposal, and fire safety requirements for equipment

Home Safety Checklist

  • Clean roofs and gutters of dead leaves, debris and pine needles that could catch embers
  • Replace or repair any loose or missing shingles or roof tiles to prevent ember penetration
  • Enclose under-eave and soffit vents or screens with metal mesh to prevent ember entry
  • Cover exterior attic vents with metal wire mesh no larger than 1/8 inch to prevent sparks from entering the home
  • Repair or replace damaged or loose window screens and any broken windows
  • Move any flammable material away from wall exteriors – mulch, flammable plants, leaves and needles, firewood piles – anything that can burn
  • Remove anything stored underneath decks or porches

For more information, visit www.firewise.org.




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