Protecting Communities in the Wildland-Urban Interface
Since 1995, forest policy has stressed managing fire, not simply suppressing it. This means planning for the inevitable and promoting the use of fire as a land management tool. The goal is to restore fire's role as a dynamic and necessary natural process.
The question is, how can we better manage wildland fire so that people and communities are safe, while ecosystems are allowed to benefit from the annual seasons of flame? Most important, the only way fire will ever be successfully reintroduced is for the rural communities on the front lines to feel safe.
Wildland fire has great potential to change landscapes more often than volcanoes, earthquakes or even floods. Such forces of change are completely natural. Many plants and animals cannot survive without the cycles of fire or flooding to which they are adapted. If all fire is suppressed, fuel builds up and makes bigger fires inevitable. Under certain conditions, large, hot fires can threaten public safety, devastate property, damage natural and cultural resources, and be expensive and dangerous to fight.
Every year many families unnecessarily lose their homes and possessions to wildland fire. These losses can be minimized if homeowners take the time to become aware of safety measures to help protect their homes and complete some effective actions.
Use Fire Resistant Building Material - "The Best Thing That You Can Do"
The roof and exterior structure of your dwelling should be constructed of non-combustible or fire resistant materials such as fire resistant roofing materials, tile, slate, sheet iron, aluminum, brick, or stone. Wood siding, cedar shakes, exterior wood paneling, and other highly combustible materials should be treated with fire retardant chemicals.
Maintain a Survivable Space - "Things you can do today"
- Clean roof surfaces and gutters of pine needs, leaves, branches, etc., regularly to avoid accumulation of flammable materials.
- Remove portions of any tree extending within 10 feet of the flue opening of any stove or chimney.
- Maintain a screen constructed of non-flammable material over the flue opening of every chimney or stovepipe. Mesh openings of the screen should not exceed 1/2 inch.
- Landscape vegetation should be spaced so that fire can not be carried to the structure or surrounding vegetation.
- Remove branches from trees to height of 15 feet.
- A fuel break should be maintained around all structures.
- Dispose of stove or fireplace ashes and charcoal briquettes only after soaking them in a metal pail of water.
- Store gasoline in an approved safety can away from occupied buildings.
- Propane tanks should be far enough away from buildings for valves to be shut off in case of fire. Keep area clear of flammable vegetation.
- All combustibles such as firewood, picnic tables, boats, etc., should be kept away from structures.
- Garden hose should be connected to outlet.
- Addressing should be indicated at all intersections and on structures.
- All roads and driveways should be at least 16 feet in width.
- Have fire tools handy such as: ladder long enough to reach the roof, shovel, rake and bucket for water.
- Each home should have at least two different entrance and exit routes.