Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Fire Marshall Encourages Wildfire Preparedness

The County Fire Marshall released the following information in a press release today on Clark County's website:

Don’t be fooled by the wet start to the wildfire season. Rain has been allowing potential wildfire fuel to flourish, and the fuel will dry out quickly when the sun finally makes its appearance for the summer months. Now is the time to assess hazards on your property and take fire prevention measures.

All vegetation is potential wildfire fuel. Give your home a fighting chance against wildfire by creating a 30-foot clear area, or “defensible space,” around the house. In this area, vegetation is modified or removed to reduce the threat of fire and increase firefighters’ opportunity to effectively defend the house.

The Fire Marshal also recommends having an evacuation plan for your family. Identify and gather important items to take with you if you must evacuate on short notice. Make sure family members know where to meet if an evacuation occurs when they are away from home.

“Wildfires are fast-moving and very dangerous,” says County Fire Marshal Jon Dunaway. “During a wildfire emergency, you and your family should be ready to evacuate to a safe area immediately.”

Preparing your home and property to reduce fire hazards.  Here are more ideas about how to prepare a defensible space around your home:

  • Remove - eliminate plants entirely, particularly trees and shrubs.
  • Remove tall, dry grasses and leaves that can provide a path for fire.
  • Remove leaves, needles and other debris from your roof and gutters.
  • Remove “ladder fuels” which allow fire to move from lower vegetation to taller fuels. To do this, provide a separation between vegetation layers, such as brush and trees.
  • Relocate firewood and combustible debris (wood scraps, grass clippings, leaf piles) at least 30 feet uphill or away from your home.
  • Reduce – remove plant parts, such as branches or leaves.
  • Remove dead or overhanging branches near your house.
  • Prune bushes and shrubs to remove excess growth, dead leaves and branches. Once grasses and wildflowers have dried out or “cured,” cut and remove them.
  • Replace – substitute less flammable plants for more hazardous vegetation.
See Oregon State University's website for fire-resistant plants for home landscapes at http://extension.oregonstate.edu/catalog/html/pnw/pnw590/
However, if your property has surface water, wetlands, seasonal streams or slopes, vegetation removal could have long-term environmental impacts.
Contact Clark County Community Environmental Services at (360) 397-2121 for advice on protecting the environment while creating a defensible space.
In the city of Vancouver, removal of vegetation may require a tree removal and/or critical areas permits. Contact the Vancouver Community Development Office at (360) 487-7950 to determine whether permits are needed.

No comments: