Thursday, May 14, 2009


Photo by Randy Fueuriet, Mission Ridge, CO

Each year, wildfires in our country take a terrible toll. With summer coming on, it’s time for homeowners to think about the possibility of wildfire and what we can do to protect our property.

How wildfire safe is your home? Be it a house in the forest, a neighborhood in a woodsy setting, or a home surrounded by wide-open spaces, consider the possibility of wildfire. Are you at the mercy of a careless camper, a stray Fourth of July bottle rocket, a bolt of lightning or even an out-of-control “prescribed burn?”

Firefighters, Departments of Forestry and other fire plan coordinators recognize the need for prevention in ways more complicated than Smokey Bear’s message to be careful with matches, though that rule certainly still applies. In today’s world of high-grade logging, wooded housing areas, and trendy homes built contrary to sound fire prevention standards, homeowners need to understand the risks.

Wildfires present a major threat where wildland and urban areas interface. These fires can be unpredictable and no region is immune to them. Each year, entire towns and hundreds of homes are at risk from wildfire. So what can you do? Plenty. Firewise construction and materials can make a difference and so can wildfire preventive landscaping methods:

● Provide a safe environment for firefighters by providing a clear access and a safe exit. If your home poses too much risk for firefighters, prudence dictates they don’t try to save your house but rather move on to one that can be saved in the limited time available to them.

● Replace your shake roof with non-combustible materials.

● Double-pane windows offer better fire protection than single pane. Also, smaller panes hold up better than large panes. Tempered glass is the better choice over plate glass.

● Vents--around the attic, under the eave soffits, under floors--are a way hot embers can enter your home. Covering vents with wire mesh screen no larger than one-eighth inch helps prevent sparks from entering your home.

● Wooden fences can act as a fuse leading right to your house. Attach the wooden fence to a cement pillar, a section of wire fence or a gate, to act as a firestop.

● Don’t keep flammable materials near your home. Remove anything that can easily burn–firewood, dense or dry vegetation, tall grass, lumber scraps–to a distance at least 30 feet away.
● Thoroughly water all vegetation within 60 feet of your home and outbuildings during dry periods.

● Follow your area’s burning regulations. Restrict a fire to within four feet in diameter, have a shovel, a charged hose, and a person capable of extinguishing a fire present at all times. Extinguish the fire before leaving it.

Don’t be one of this season’s statistics. Act now, and throughout the fire season, to protect your home from wildfire.

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