Ross Valley Fire Department wants to remind you that the fire season is here. With the current drought situation, it is a good time to evaluate your property and make it a “Defensible Space” against the threat of wildfires.
In recent years, the focus of fire prevention has changed. While the end goal of preventing catastrophic loss of life, property, and natural resources has remained the same, the strategies and tactics involved have been modified. Increasing fuel loads have made today's wildland fires harder to control, expensive to suppress, and a threat to the lives of firefighters and civilians. Potential negative wildland fire consequences now involve more than blackened acres and property loss. When today's wildland fires spread, they often burn with intense heat and erratic fire behavior, severely impacting and even altering ecosystems and communities. Reactive fire suppression programs must evolve into proactive fire management programs that effectively apply fire prevention and hazardous fuels reduction techniques to not only reduce unwanted fire ignitions, but also minimize damages and personnel exposure from wildfires.
Here’s what you can do:
Maintain a Survivable Space - "Things You Can Do Today"
- Remove – dead and dying grass, shrubs and trees
- Reduce – the density of vegetation (fuel) and ladder fuels, those fuels extending from the ground to the tree canopies.
- Replace – hazardous vegetation with fire resistive, irrigated landscape vegetation including lawn, or other low growing groundcovers and flowering plants.
The Home Ignition Zone: (the home plus 10 feet distance)
It’s the “little things” that will endanger your home. Just a little ember landing on a little pile of flammable material will burn it. We suggest spending a morning searching out and getting rid of those flammable little things outside and your home will be much safer. Following are a few of the items you should take a look at:
- Keep your rain gutters and roof clean of all flammable material.
- Get rid of dry grass, brush and other flammable materials around your home – and don’t forget leaves, pine needles, and bark walkways. Replace with well-maintained landscape vegetation, green lawn and landscape rocks.
- Clear all flammable materials from your deck. This includes brooms, stacked wood, and easily ignitable patio furniture. Also, enclose or board up the area under your deck to keep it from becoming a fuel bed for hot embers.
- Move woodpiles and garbage cans away from your home. Keep woodpiles away from the home a distance of two times the height of the pile – more if space allows.
- Use fine mesh metal screen (1/4” or less) to cover eaves, roof and foundation vents to prevent windblown embers from entering.
- Inspect and clean your chimney every year. Trim away branches within 10 feet of the opening of the chimney. Install a spark arrester with ½” or smaller screen.
You can also visit the FIRESafe MARIN website – www.firesafemarin.org – for more detailed information on clearing around your property. Please sign up for the FIRESafe MARIN newsletter for updates on wildfire preparedness in Marin.