|WILDLAND FIRES NEAR PROPERTIES AT RISK|
Since the early 1970's, people have become more aware of the environment. Earth Day, established in 1970, focused public attention our natural resources. With increased awareness, many people are choosing to make their home in the forest environment. The move from the city, to the suburbs is now expanding to rural landscapes. Wildland firefighters are extremely aware of the potential for homes in the path of wildfires to be destroyed. The 1990 Oakland-Berkley Hills wildfire brought the problem to a head. Firefighters, both wildland and structural, were hampered in their efforts by narrow roads, steep topography, while people were being evacuated. To complicate the situation homeowners were evacuating at the same time the firefighters were trying to get into the area.
Although wildland urban interface fires are not new, they are now in the forefront. Census figures over the past 20 years show more and more people moving from the suburban to the rural areas to find their own "piece of heaven." Local governments in rural areas, must now deal with more families expecting urban/metropolitan services. The tax base, as well as the infrastructure, cannot support what is being asked.
Also people moving into the wildland urban interface are not familiar with their environment. They make choices which increase the potential for their homes to be destroyed in the event of a wildfire. Many forested areas on the east coast have been logged and subdivided into building lots. Fuels such as logging slash and volatile understory vegetation are left on site, increasing the potential for wildfires. In addition with more people, there is increased risk of fires caused by people debris burning, equipment use, smoking, campfires and arson.
What is the Wildland Urban Interface?
The National Fire Protection Association defines the Wildland Urban Interface as:
Follow these simple guidelines to make your structure more likely to survive a wildfire
For a printable copy of this activity use this link >
Teaching Idea: Fire Audit--access your property to see if it meets FireWise guidelines.
Auditing your home and woods for fire safety, being ready for a fire is the best protection. In order to conduct the audit you will need to know how to determine distance and height.
1.Using your pace to determine a distance:
2.Determining branch height or tree height using a person of known height:
You 'll need:
*If your house is on flat or gently sloping ground, your safety zone is 30 feet.
*If your house is on 30 percent or greater slope, your safety zone is 100 feet or more down hill from your house.
Safety zone is covered by a green lawn without sticks and leaves._____yes _____no
If no, plant lawn and/or pick up sticks and other debris.
Trees in the safety zone are pruned to a height of about 10 feet._____yes _____no
If no, prune trees, but be sure to leave 50 percent of the tree height in live branches to maintain healthy tree growth.
Tree crowns in the safety zone are at least 16 feet apart._____yes _____no
If no, cut down individual trees with crowns that are too close.
Firewood and other burnable materials are at least 30 feet away from buildings.____yes ____no
If no, then move firewood or other items.
Gutters, eaves and roof are clear of leaves or other debris._____yes _____no
In no, remove the leaves and debris.
Branches around your chimney, dead branches hanging over your roof, or branches that may come in contact with power lines._____yes _____no
If yes, prune trees. Note: hire a professional to prune branches near power lines.
House number is posted in large letters and numbers at start of driveway._____yes _____no
If no, purchase or make a reflective house address sign.
Driveway is at least 12 feet wide, a vertical clearance of 15 feet, and a turn-around at the house. _____yes _____no
If no, consider making access to your house easier.
Emergency fire numbers are posted by the phone, the fire escape plan is practiced.___yes ___no
If no, post numbers and plan and practice your escape route now!
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