FIRE PREVENTION TIPS
Fire Wise Clean-up
Over the past two weeks, we have shared with you that creating defensible space around your home is one of the most important and effective steps you can take to protect you, your family and your home from a wildfire. We have also shared how to choose fire wise plants and that fire wise landscaping can be aesthetically pleasing and that we have many native and local plant species that are appropriate for fire wise plant materials.
Today, the final series of fire wise protection has to do with your home; how to make your home fire safe. Construction materials and the quality of the defensible space surrounding your home are what give your home the best chance to survive a wildfire. Embers from wildfire will find the weak link in your home’s fire protection scheme and gain the upper hand because of a small, overlooked or seemingly inconsequential factor.
1. Design/Construction. If you are in the beginning stages of building, consider installing residential sprinklers. Build your home away from ridge tops, canyons and areas between high points on a ridge. Build your home at least 30-100 feet from your property line and build with fire resistant materials. Enclose the underside of the eaves, balconies and above ground decks with fire resistant materials. Try to limit the size and number of windows in your home that face large areas of vegetation. Heat from a wildfire can cause windows to break even before the home ignites. Large windows are particularly vulnerable. Install dual-paned windows with the exterior pane of tempered glass to reduce the chance of breakage in a fire. Wood products, such as boards, panels or shingles are common siding materials. However, they are combustible and not good choices for fire-prone areas. Build or remodel with fire-resistant building materials, such as brick, cement, masonry or stucco.
2. Access. Identify at least 2 exit routes from your neighborhood. Make sure neighborhood roads are designed with, grade and curves to allow access for large emergency vehicles. Clear vegetation at least 10 feet from roads and five feet from driveways.
3. Roof. Roofs are the most vulnerable surface where embers land because they can lodge and start a fire. Roof valleys, open ends of barrel tiles and rain gutters are all points of entry. Remove branches within ten feet of your chimney and dead branches overhanging your roof. Remove dead leaves and needles from your roof and gutters. Install fire resistant roofing if possible. Cover your chimney outlet and stovepipe with a nonflammable screen of ½ inch or smaller mesh.
4. Landscape. Make sure you have created a defensible space.
5. Yard. Stack woodpiles at least 30 feet from all structures and remove vegetation within 10 feet of woodpiles. Make sure all LPG tanks are the required distance from your structure – 30 feet at least and maintain 10 feet of clearance.
6. Keep a working fire extinguisher in the kitchen. Keep baking soda on hand to extinguish stove-top grease fires.
7. Living Room. Install a screen in front of fireplace or wood stove. Store ashes from your fireplace in a metal container and dispose of only when cold. Clean fireplace chimneys and flues at least once a year.
8. Garage. Keep a working fire extinguisher in the garage.
9. Have an area for tools, shovels, and rakes bucket available for use in a wildfire emergency.
10. Make sure a solid door with self-closing hinges between living areas and the garage in installed.
11. Dispose of oily rags in approved metal containers.
12. Store all combustibles away from ignition sources such as water heaters.
13. Properly store flammable liquids in approved containers and away from ignition sources.
14. Bedrooms. Make sure smoke detectors are installed in bedrooms and hallways.
15. If security bars are installed make sure they have a quick release mechanism.
This series of articles has given you ways to protect your home. Next it is time to protect your family. Create a family disaster plan that includes meeting locations and communication plans. Have fire extinguishers on hand and train your family how to use them. Ensure that your family knows where your gas, electric and water main shut-off controls are and how to use them. Turn off propane tanks. Plans several difference evacuation routes. Assemble an emergency supply kit that consists of first aid kit, flashlight, batteries, sanitation supplies, glasses, etc. Appoint an out-of-area friend or relative as a point of contact so you can communicate with family members who have relocated. If you have to leave your home, leave early enough to avoid being caught in fire, smoke or road congestion. Don’t wait to be told by the authorities to leave. Although these articles lean more to the Prescott Basin, it is important to know that a fire can flare up anywhere - Remember to PREPARE, PROTECT and BEWARE. Call the Fire Department to schedule a yard or home inspection to ensure you are fire safe.