Today I have a short guest post for you from a friend and firefighter, Nathan Ross. As I was going through the process of a home purchase, I asked Nathan to give me some pointers on the protection of a home and property from wildfires and forest fires, and then put that together into a quick guest post here at All Things Survival. Wildfire prevention and dealing with them is a topic that I have a great interest in; and you, as readers, have communicated to me that you do as well, so here we go. I’ll likely do more on this topic in the future.
Protecting Your Home from Wildfires and Forest Fires
First, just a little about Nathan….
Nathan Ross first began fighting wildfires in 1991 with the Washington Department of Natural Resources as a crew member of “wildland engine.” After three years of being a crew member, he took over the leadership role of Engine Boss and had had that role off and on for the past 18 years. Nathan still works for the DNR, but his engine is an Interagency Engine with two Forest Service crew members. His geographical region is surrounded by US Forest Service ownership, as well as many private ownerships. The two agencies decided to form a “cooperative engine” to respond to incidents on any forests (state, private, or federal government). For the past 11 years, he has also been a volunteer firefighter in his small community.
Protecting Your Home From Wildfires and Forest Fires
Some of the most damaging wildfires are originated by humans. Here are a few things you can do to protect your property.
When purchasing a home and property, location is a large factor when it comes to considering protection against fire. Research the history of the location and find out where previous large burns have happened. Many people seek “views” and seclusion, but both have their own “perks” and drawbacks. Views from hills and slopes often open your property up to fast-moving fires that take a much larger defensible space to protect. Seclusion often brings the trees right to your doorstep, as well as hot, sustained fires. Typically, a defensible space needs to be four times larger than the tallest trees or shrubs near your house, but slopes and wind need to be factored into this equation as well when you want to create a defensible space. Shrubs and shade trees near the house are wonderful for looks but should be avoided or at least be small enough that they can be removed quickly by chainsaw or controlled burning.
As for building(s), many owners like the natural look of wood siding, log homes, shake roofs (even composite), etc.… As one might assume, these highly flammable materials need to be considered. Recommended materials are metal and concrete for their non-combustible characteristics. Their abilities to reflect infrared heat are well documented.
As for other things to consider when considering the home and property, keep firewood supplies away from important buildings (propane tanks, too). When creating landscaping, in-ground sprinkler systems pay dividends to keep things lush and have great use in wetting things down upon approaching fires. Some new homes in high fire danger areas incorporate a watering system into their rooftops. Keep yard debris picked up, which would include downed branches, cones, needles, and leaves (including under decks, stairs, and gutters). Upon approaching fires, houses are evaluated for any of the qualities that I’ve listed, but also for escape routes and safety zones. Some homes are then not protected because of narrow approaches (due to land or vegetation), long/isolated paths, or steep driveways.
When considering products for homeowners to fight fires themselves, please always consider evacuating, as that can be the most prudent lifesaver.
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