Backyard Forest Stewardship in Western Washington
Making Your Home Firesafe
Create a fire-resistant defensible space around your home and other valuable structures. Remove hazardous flammable materials, debris, and vegetation near your home. Within 30 feet of your house, landscape with native plants and mow lawn areas regularly. Thin and prune trees near your house, removing limbs that overhang your chimney. Keep your roof cleared of twigs and needles. Stack firewood and combustible materials well away from buildings. Keep weeds and other debris away from propane tanks and sheds where gasoline or other petroleum products are stored.
Make sure firefighters can get to you. Make sure your address is easily visible for firefighters. If necessary, clear your driveway so it is wide enough for a fire truck to enter and turn around. It may not be possible for firefighters to defend your home without good access, an adequate escape route, and defensible space around the home.
Stop sparks before they become fire. Screens on your chimney will help contain burning embers. Place screens on your home vents to block burning embers from approaching wildfires. When it is time, consider replacing your roof with one made of fire-resistant materials. Face exposed decks, porches, or foundations with skirting. Keep a hose and fire tools readily accessible, especially when you burn debris.
Keep fire safety equipment readily accessible inside and outside your home. Make sure the home has operable smoke detectors and fire extinguishers. Have fire tools and a connected hose readily at hand outside. Make sure all family members know where this equipment is and how to summon help in event of a fire.
Check for neighborhood hazards such as hazard trees or limbs, which could fall and break power lines. Notify your power company of potential hazards.
Spread the word to your neighbors. Neighbors working together can create better fire safety than individuals working alone. Ask your neighbors to join you in helping to make your neighborhood fire safe.
Photo by: USDA Forest Service - Rocky Mountain Region Archive, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org
Although wet weather is common much of the year, western Washington experiences periods of high fire danger during the dry summer months. Areas prone to easterly winds may experience extremely hazardous conditions. As more people move into forested areas, the potential for catastrophe increases. If you live in a wooded area, you should plan to take steps now to protect your home and family.
Check out these resources:
Tolt Firewise, an example of a western Washington FireWise Community