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Living With Wildfire
The Fire Environment
Weather • Low humidity dries vegetation • Winds dry fuels and increase fire spread
Topography • Steep slopes increase fire spread • South and west facing slopes dry fuels more quickly
Fuels • Fuel moisture and size affect fire intensity and rate of spread • Weather and topography cannot be changed fuels can be modified
Location Of Homes In Wildlands Key to your home’s survivability • Location in relation to fuels • Your home becomes part of the fuel
Making Your Property Firewise
Survivable Space • Make your home survivable on its own.
1. Define and Create a “Defensible Space” Defensible space refers to that area between a house and the surrounding wildlands where the vegetation has been modified to reduce the wildfire threat.
1. Define & Create a “Defensible Space” Consider § Type of vegetation surrounding your home § The slope of the building lot Depending on the slope and vegetation, the recommended minimum “Defensible Space” will vary from a 30 foot perimeter for level lots… and up to a 150 foot perimeter for a sloped lots.
Does Defensible Space Make a Difference? Yes! Investigations of homes threatened by wildfire indicate that houses with an effective defensible space are much more likely to survive a wildfire.
Poor Defensible Space
2. Break It Up § Interrupt the layers of vegetation. § Plant trees and shrubs in small groups. § Use nonflammable products like crushed rock and organic mulches § Construction of hard surfaces such as patios, sidewalks, driveways, rock and brick walls also help slow the spread of flames.
• Balance with erosion during rainy season. • Use rock, brick, or stone paths. • Create driveways, walkways, or patios.
3. Eliminate Ladder Fuels § Remove vegetation that allows a fire to move from lower growing plants to taller ones. § Vertical separation of three times the height of the lower fuel layer is recommended.
Reduce Flammable Vegetation, Trees and Brush Around Your Home Fuel “Ladder” Tree Canopy Shrubs Ground Fuels Fire travels up the “ladder” from plant structure
4. Keep It Lean, Clean, & Green § Lean: Small amounts of flammable vegetation § Clean: No accumulation of dead vegetation or flammable debris § Green: Plants are healthy and green during the fire season
Keep It Lean, Clean & Green § Clear pine needles, leaves and debris from your roof gutters and yard § Remove dead limbs and branches within 10’ of your chimney and deck.
Fire Resistant Plants
Use Low Growing, Non Woody Plants
Fire Resistant Plants Characteristics §High moisture content § Low fuel volume § Short plants (less than 18” high) §Desirable chemical content (not oily or waxy) Examples: roses, lilacs, and blue flax
5) Maintain Your Space § Annually, review these defensible space steps and take action accordingly § An effective defensible space can be quickly diminished through neglect.
6. Check Your Roof § Remove build-up in gutters and on shingles § Remove branches over the roof, under the eaves, and within 15 feet of the chimney. § Install a spark arrestor § Replace flammable shingles with a fire proof/resistant type. § Inspect your roof twice a year
7. Construction and Building Location § Building site location is critical to reducing fire danger § Locate the building away from ridge tops, canyons and areas between high points on a ridge § Use fire resistant building materials and enclose the underside of balconies, decks, and eaves with fire resistant materials. § Consider installing a sprinkler system within the house to protect your home
8. Have An Emergency Water Supply § In communities where there is an insufficient water supply, homeowners should provide additional personal water storage. § Extra water could take the form of an above ground water tank, an underground water tank, or even a swimming pool. § Clearly mark all water supplies so that firefighters can locate the source quickly.
9. Fireproof Your Signs and Access § Access to your property is important § Roads and driveways must be wide enough to accommodate emergency vehicles § Establish alternate ingress and egress routes § Make sure your address is clearly displayed on a fireproof sign at the entrance to your property.
10. Do Emergency Planning § Planning in advance of an emergency § Family members should agree on a “safe area” where they can meet § Planning should include how to secure your residence, what to pack, back car into driveway for quick escape, and other important, life saving facts.
10 Key Points 1. Define Your Defensible Space 2. Break it Up 3. Eliminate Ladder Fuels 4. Keep Lean, Clean and Green 5. Maintain Your Space 6. Check Your Roof 7. Construction and Building Location 8. Have An Emergency Water Supply 9. Fire Proof Your Signs And Access 10. Do Emergency Planning
10. What To Do When Wildfire Strikes Plan Ahead § Keep an emergency checklist § Prepare evacuation plan for house and neighborhood § Have important documents accessible
What To Do When Wildfire Strikes Home preparation § Close all windows and doors § Arrange garden house to reach any area of your home § Pack your car quickly for departure
What To Do When Wildfire Strikes Stay Calm § Leave early, don’t delay § Contact friends and family to inform them of your plans § Monitor local radio and television for fire reports and evacuation procedures