Wildfire Safety

Prepare for Dry Weather... Wildfires can occur anywhere and can destroy homes, businesses, infrastructure, natural resources, and agriculture. For more information, download the How to Prepare for a Wildfire guide, which provides the basics of wildfires, explains how to protect yourself and your property, and details the steps to take now so that you can act quickly when you, your home, or your business is in danger.

For more information on wildfire preparedness, visit  Wildfire. Be Smart.

Keep your property lean and green to help protect your family and home.

Creating defensible space is essential to improve your home’s chance of surviving a wildfire. It’s the buffer you create between a building on your property and the grass, trees, shrubs, or any wildland area that surround it. This space is needed to slow or stop the spread of wildfire and it protects your home from catching fire—either from direct flame contact or radiant heat. Defensible space is also important for the protection of the firefighters defending your home.

http://www.readyforwildfire.org/Defensible-Space/

What is the Home Ignition Zone?

The concept of the home ignition zone was developed by retired USDA Forest Service fire scientist Jack Cohen in the late 1990s, following some breakthrough experimental research into how homes ignite due to the effects of radiant heat. The HIZ is divided into three zones.

Immediate zone

The home and the area 0-5’ from the furthest attached exterior point of the home; defined as a non-combustible area.  Science tells us this is the most important zone to take immediate action on as it is the most vulnerable to embers. START WITH THE HOUSE ITSELF then move into the landscaping section of the Immediate Zone.

  • 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.
  • Reduce embers that could pass through vents in the eaves by installing 1/8 inch metal mesh screening.
  • Clean debris from exterior attic vents and install 1/8 inch metal mesh screening to reduce embers.
  • Repair or replace damaged or loose window screens and any broken windows Screen or box-in areas below patios and decks with wire mesh to prevent debris and combustible materials from accumulating.
  • 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. 

Intermediate zone

5-30’ from the furthest exterior point of the home. Landscaping/hardscaping- employing careful landscaping or creating breaks that can help influence and decrease fire behavior

  • Clear vegetation from under large stationary propane tanks.
  • Create fuel breaks with driveways, walkways/paths, patios, and decks.
  • Keep lawns and native grasses mowed to a height of four inches.
  • Remove ladder fuels (vegetation under trees) so a surface fire cannot reach the crowns.  Prune trees up to six to ten feet from the ground; for shorter trees do not exceed 1/3 of the overall tree height.
  • Space trees to have a minimum of eighteen feet between crowns with the distance increasing with the percentage of slope.
  • Tree placement should be planned to ensure the mature canopy is no closer than ten feet to the edge of the structure.
  • Tree and shrubs in this zone should be limited to small clusters of a few each to break up the continuity of the vegetation across the landscape.

 

Extended zone

30-100 feet, out to 200 feet. Landscaping – the goal here is not to eliminate fire but to interrupt fire’s path and keep flames smaller and on the ground.

  • Dispose of heavy accumulations of ground litter/debris.
  • Remove dead plant and tree material.
  • Remove small conifers growing between mature trees.
  • Remove vegetation adjacent to storage sheds or other outbuildings within this area.
  • Trees 30 to 60 feet from the home should have at least 12 feet between canopy tops.*
  • Trees 60 to 100 feet from the home should have at least 6 feet between the canopy tops.*

*The distances listed for crown spacing are suggested based on NFPA 1144. However, the crown spacing needed to reduce/prevent crown fire potential could be significantly greater due to slope, the species of trees involved and other site specific conditions. Check with your local forestry professional to get advice on what is appropriate for your property.

https://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/By-topic/Wildfire/Preparing-homes-for-wildfire


Defensible Space

Pine needles, leaves and other debris around your home create fuel for fires. As we move into summer, warm/dry conditions with Low humidity & wind, any fire to spread rapidly. Build on beyond 5 feet from your house. By addressing this area from 5 to 30 feet from your house you can influence and decrease fire behavior prior to it reaching your house.  http://www.readyforwildfire.org/Defensible-Space/ 


Fire Resistant Plants

A fuel break that includes fire-resistant plans can help protect your home by reducing and blocking intense heat. Learn at fire-resistant plants about: https://www.dnr.wa.gov/publications/rp_fire_resistantplants_in_nw.pdf?kukl1


 

Wildland fires are a serious threat to lives and property in the U.S. The combination of drought, warmer temperatures, high winds and an excess of dried vegetation in forests and grasslands has made fire seasons progressively worse over the past 50 years. In the past decade, wildfires have burned over 60 million acres of these lands. According to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), 2012 saw one of the worst fire seasons in decades, with over nine million acres burned.


 

NFPA President Jim Pauley talks about the wildfire problem and what is being done to combat it. To learn more, read Pauley's First Word column in the September/October issue of NFPA Journal.

Facts and figures

  • According to the National Interagency Fire Center, 2014 saw more than 63,000 wildfires burn over 3.5 million acres.
     
  • According to the U.S. Fire Administration: In 2012, 67,774 wildfires burned 9,326,238 acres (an area that’s bigger than NJ, Connecticut and Delaware). This makes 2012 the third highest year with the most acres burned since national wildfire statistics have been kept, beginning in 1960. Remaining at the number one and two spots are 2006 with 9.9 million, and 2007 with 9.3 million.
     
  • In 2014, more than 1,900 primary structures were lost due to wildfire and attributed to house-to-house ignitions. From 2004 – 2014, primary structure losses totaled more than 15,000.
     
  • The National Association of State Foresters (NASF) cites more than 72,000 U.S. communities are now at risk from wildfire.
     
  • According to NFPA, large-loss fires accounted for nearly $800 million in direct property losses nationwide in 2011. The Bastrop County Complex (Texas) wildfire alone resulted in $400 million in property loss and was the largest of the large-loss fires recorded during that year. See the 10 largest loss wildland fires in the U.S.
     
  • InciWeb, an incident information system, provides the most timely and accurate wildfire incident information for the public, media relations and public affairs professionals. Wildfire information on InciWeb includes the name of the fire, location and number of acres burned. 

Wildfire activity
CLICK HERE to find current wildfires activity across the U.S. The map is updated every 24 hours and developed by GeoMAC. 


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