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Outdoor Yard Work Projects That Will Help Ensure Your Home Survives the Summer

May 25, 2012

As outdoor weather permits, there is more and more yard work going on (my place included). 

The number one fire call that we have in Fire District 9 is wildland fire.  If you live in a suburban or rural wildland area, attention to wildland fire preparedness is crucial to ensuring your house survives wildfire season.  We’d like you to spend some time working on building survivable space around your home over the next few weekends, and it’s a four-step process.

  1.  Get rid of dead and down timber.  If it’s standing dead or dead and down, get it out of the way now.  That way it’s not fuel to spread the fire in August.  Removing dead fuel helps reduce the rate of fire spread and the duration of burn time.  Both help in making an approaching wildfire more manageable.
  2. Most wildfires in our area move along on the ground.  If the fire can get up into the timber and become a crown fire, it is extremely difficult to stop.  To avoid this, we advocate limbing your trees up to about eight feet above the ground.  This eliminates what we call ‘ladder fuels’.  Without ladder fuels, the wildfire moves along the ground rather than climbing up into the timber canopy.
  3. As you move from the forest toward your home, we want to see that overhead canopy open up.  Fire will travel quickly in a horizontal direction if the heat is held under a timber canopy.  If you open that canopy up (by thinning some trees out closer to the house) heat will rise upward and disperse, decreasing wildfire intensity.  As we get closer to your home (the high-value asset we want to protect) opening up the timber stand allows heat to disperse upward and increases chances your home will survive.  We’re don’t expect your property to look like a Wal-Mart parking lot.  It’s just that a more open timber canopy makes for a much tamer fire as it gets closer to your home.
  4. Keep a green yard.  A minimum of 30’ of green grass makes a great fire break.  Use of fire-resistant plants up near the house helps also.  DON’T plant junipers, cedar shrubs or arborvitae up near the house.  Those go up like torches and you don’t want those near your home during wildfire season.

If rural residents can accomplish these yard work tasks this spring, that will help ensure you don’t have an engine company at your home this summer trying to get it done before a fire comes through.

If you’ve got questions about survivable space you can go to www.readysetgospokane.org, or http://www.scfd9.org/DefensibleSpace1.pdf, or you can e-mail me at dbleeker@scfd9.org, call 466-4602, or post a question on this blog.

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One Comment
  1. This is good info. We shared on our facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/AutoOut. Thanks!

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