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Being Fire Wise is an Easy Way to Prepare for Fire Season

Posted by Robert Westover, U.S. Forest Service Office of Communication in Forestry
Sep 10, 2015
A wildland fire burning in front of houses and trees
Wildland fires burn intensely and creating a defensible space around your home can be the difference between a close call and destruction. Photo credit: U.S. Forest Service

We’ve all seen the heart-wrenching images on TV: lives and property destroyed by wildland fire.  And, this fire season, with over eight million acres burned, we are seeing these images more frequently.

Most of us think nothing can be done to protect a home from the onslaught of a raging wildland fire. Don’t be fooled, there is a way to protect your home.  The U.S. Forest Service calls it Fire Wise.

Being Fire Wise can mean the difference between a charred foundation where your home once stood or being the image on TV of the house still standing after a wall of fire swept through the community. Often destruction or preservation can depend upon the landscape design.   The Fire Wise protected home will help it, your landscape and your community resist wildfire.

Even though the 2015 wildfire season is nearing its end, there still is the possibility of catastrophic wildfires in many parts of the Western U.S. through early November. If you have not already done so, now is a good time to take steps to reduce wildland fire risks to your property. Here are some suggestions:

  • Fire Wise landscaped properties have one thing in common: a defensible space stretching at least 100 feet from a structure and in some cases a couple of hundred feet.
  • Fire Wise yards will have grass, rock or evergreen ground cover surrounding them (or sometimes just soil).  This “empty space” creates an area of land where the heated intensity of a wildland fire cannot reach—it literally has nothing to burn.

The Forest Service, Federal fire managers and crews continue to work closely with states and communities to protect residents, property and natural resources, however, homeowners still need to do their part.

By taking simple fire prevention steps, you will not only protect yourself and your family, but also the firefighters who put their lives at risk to fight wildfires. Fire is everyone's fight.

Category/Topic: Forestry