fire season

Wildfire Prevention & Preparedness

wildfire prevention and prepardness

As more individuals build their homes in woodland settings — in or near forests, rural areas or remote mountain sites, they enjoy the beauty of the environment but face the very real danger of wildfire. Every year across the U.S., major wildfires test homeowners and firefighters, some homes survive while many others do not. Those that survive almost always do so because their owners had prepared for the eventuality of fire, which is an inescapable force of nature in fire-prone woodland areas. Another way we think of it as, if it’s predictable, it’s preventable!

Wildfires often begin unnoticed; usually triggered by lightning or accidents. They spread quickly, igniting brush, trees and homes. Reduce your risk by preparing now — before wildfire strikes. Meet with your family to decide what to do and where to go if wildfires threaten your area. Follow the steps listed below to protect your family, home and property.

Protect Your Home

It is recommended that you create a 30 to 100 foot safety zone around your home, within this area, you can take steps to reduce potential exposure to flames and radiant heat. Homes built in pine forests should have a minimum safety zone of 100 feet. If your home sits on a steep slope, standard protective measures may not suffice. Contact your local fire department or forestry office for additional information.

Create a Perimeter Checklist:

Plan Ahead

  • Identify and maintain an adequate outside water source such as a small pond, cistern, well, swimming pool, or hydrant.
  • Have a garden hose that is long enough to reach any area of the home and other structures on the property.
  • Install freeze-proof exterior water outlets on at least two sides of the home and near other structure on the property. Install additional outlets at least 50 feet from the home.
  • Consider obtaining a portable gasoline powered pump in case electrictrical power is cut off.

Emergency Supplies

When wildfire threatens you won’t have time to shop or search for supplies. Assemble a disaster supplies kit with items you may need if advised to evacuate. Store these supplies in sturdy, easy-to-carry containers such as backpacks, duffle-bags, or trash containers.

Below are some essential items to include:

wildland fire prepardness

During a Wildfire

If advised to evacuate, do so immediately. Take your disaster supply kit, lock your home and choose a route away from the fire hazard. Watch for changes in the speed and direction of the fire and smoke. Tell someone when you left and where you are going. If you see a wildfire and haven’t received evacuation orders yet, call 9-1-1. Don’t assume that someone else has already called. Describe the location of the fire, speak slowly. Describe the location of the fire, speak slowly and clearly, and answer any questions asked by the dispatcher. If you are not ordered to evacuate and have time to prepare your home, FEMA recommends you take the following actions:

  • Arrange temporary housing at a friend or relative’s home outside the threatened area in case you need to evacuate
  • Wear protective clothing when outside — sturdy shoes, cotton or woolen clothes, long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, gloves and a handkerchief to protect your face
  • Gather fire tools such as a rake, axe, handsaw or chainsaw, bucket and shovel
  • Close outside attic, eaves and basement vents, windows, doors, pet doors, etc. Remove flammable drapes and curtains
  • Close all shutters, blinds or heavy non-combustible window coverings to reduce radiant heat
  • Close all doors inside the house to prevent draft
  • Open the damper on your fireplace, but close the fireplace screen
  • Shut off any natural gas, propane or fuel oil supplies at the source
  • Connect garden hoses to outdoor water faucet and fill any pools, hot tubs, garbage cans, tubs or other large containers with water
  • Place lawn sprinklers on the roof and near above-ground fuel tanks, and leave the sprinklers on, dowsing these structures as long as possible
  • If you have gas-powered pumps for water, make sure they are fueled and ready

If asked to evacuate…

  • Place a ladder against the house in clear view to aid firefighters
  • Disconnect any automatic garage door openers so that doors can still be opened by hand if the power goes out, and close all garage doors
  • Place valuable papers, mementos and anything “you can’t live without” inside the car in the garage, ready for quick departure
  • Any pets still with you should also be put in the car
  • Place valuables that will not be damaged by water in a pool or pond
  • Move flammable furniture into the center of the residence away from the windows and sliding-glass doors
  • Turn on outside lights and leave a light on in every room to make the house more visible in heavy smoke

Practice Wildfire Safety

Every year wildfires destroy thousands of homes and businesses all over the United States. This is why it is so important to be aware of the potential for wildfires and to always take steps to prevent a fire from spreading. People start most wildfires, find out how you can promote and practice wildfire safety.  

california wildifres using bme firetrucks
  • Contact your local fire department, health department, or forestry office for information on fire laws.
  • Make sure that fire vehicles can get to your home. Clearly mark all driveway entrances and display your name and address.
  • Report hazardous conditions that could cause a wildfire.
  • Teach children about fire safety, be sure to keep matches out of their reach.
  • Post fire emergency telephone numbers.
  • Ensure adequate accessibility by large fire vehicles to your property.
  • Plan several escape routes away from your home, both by car and foot.
  • Talk to your neighbors about wildfire safety. Plan how the neighborhood could work together after a wildfire. Make a list of your neighbors’ skills such as medical or technical. Consider how you could help your neighbors who have special needs such as elderly or disabled persons. Make plans to take care of children who may be on their own if parents can’t get home.
  • Keep important family documents in a waterproof container. Assemble a smaller version of your kit to keep in the trunk of your car.
  • Wildfires often begin unnoticed. They spread quickly, igniting brush, trees and homes. Reduce your risk by preparing now before a wildfire strikes. Meet with your family to decide what to do

How Drones Are Hindering Firefighting Efforts  

drone interfere with firefighting

As we move deeper into the 21st century, one of the prevailing issues of our time is the need for common sense to keep up with burgeoning technology and how it can help or hinder our response to all sorts of emergencies. Recently, the serious issue of civilian drones has come to the forefront of emergency services as incidences of drones interfering with first responder operations are on the rise. Sometimes, this has devastating effects.

Read More

The California Wildfire Season Is Now 4-5 Months Longer

california wildfire season longer

Last December, another major fire plagued California. For over a month, the Thomas Fire blazed through Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. The destruction surpassed 440 square miles of land scorched and 1,063 structures burned, claiming the title as the largest wildfire in California history. As of December 22nd, more than 8,500 firefighters fought to contain it. It took firefighters until January 12 to reach 100 percent containment, thanks in part to the subsiding Santa Ana winds that had originally exacerbated the fire in early December.

Read More

Why Mudslides Occur After Large Wildfires Like the California Thomas Fire and How to Protect Yourself From Them

thomas fire

In January of 2018, the relief from hazardous weather and extreme conditions did not appear to be in sight for residents of the Golden State.  Devastating mudslides in California killed at least 20 people in early January in the coastal town of Montecito.  Downed trees and power lines as well as cascading boulders made the task of getting to those needing assistance difficult.  The excessive flooding and debris made air transport the only viable form of rescue.  Helicopters loaned by Ventura’s Air Squad 6 dedicated were used to pluck more than 50 people from rooftops from parts of Montecito and Santa Barbara.

As of mid-January, the relief and search effort numbered 3,000 workers from local, state and federal agencies, including the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Navy and the American Red Cross.  Details regarding the victims’ circumstances before the mudslides emerged from rescuers.  As the saturated hillsides gave way, the torrent of mud, water, and other debris was said to have swept the casualties away while they slept.  The mudslides were triggered by a powerful storm that hit the region along with mountainous areas that were stripped of vegetation burned bare by the gigantic December 2017 Thomas fire.  Let’s take a look at how the wildfires that raged through the area late last year have made the mudslides more devastating.

Read More

California’s “New Normal” Demands New Staff and New Strategies in 2018

wildland firefighters

Some of the biggest headlines of late show that California has been on fire near continuously over the past couple of months. Agencies such as CAL Fire and the Forestry Service have beefed up their staffing in the face of these unprecedented blazes.

The staffing increase is especially underway in Southern California in the face of strong winds and continuous dry conditions throughout the recent fire season. Coupled with the extent of the burnt scrub and bushes from past fires, these blazes have already chewed up hundreds of thousands of acres and destroyed thousands of structures. In response to these fires, as well as in handling the aftermath with recent flooding and mudslides, various fire and forestry agencies have stepped up their hiring efforts. As these intense blazes become more aggressive, sufficient personnel will be needed to respond to these emergencies with equal aggression.

Read More

Thomas Fire Caps an Unprecedented Fire Season

Thomas Fire

The final California wildfire of the year, Thomas Fire has been decimating much of Ventura and Santa Barbara counties since early December, 2017. In terms of acreage, this final inferno is the largest in the history of the state. In terms of how the fire has spread and behaved, many veterans claim they’ve never seen anything like it.

All up and down the state this season, battling one devastating blaze after another, California has just suffered one of the most destructive fires in its history. The Thomas fire has reached the top of the list of history’s most destructive fires to ever chew through California.

Read More

Northern California Fire Crews Switch Focus from Blazes to Mudslides

northern california wildfire

Even though the wildfires that ravaged the North Bay region of California are now under control, there still looms the equally devastating threat of mudslides throughout the area. Many of the scorched hillsides have been reduced to ash and debris, just waiting for the rainy winter season that could turn them into deadly mudslides. The threat is real enough that some of the areas with steeper terrain have been ordered to evacuate.

Daniel Berlant, assistant deputy director for Cal Fire, spoke with the Napa Valley Registry and explained that part of their task in the clean up after the fires was to consult with hydrologists and forestry experts to examine the damaged watersheds. They assess the soil burn severity. A hot fire bakes the soil like a brick, and then rainwater can’t soak in. The runoff results in erosion and debris flows.

Read More

Holidays are Lowest for Wildfires, but Prime Time for House Fires

As the weather in the United States starts to change with the onset of winter, so too do the causes of fires. Daily fire incidence is at its highest in the spring.  Spring in the US is characterized by an increase in outside fires due to the prevalence of recreational activities after winter.  As people emerge from the winter months there is also an increase in trees, grass, and brush that are susceptible to human caused fires.  Summer fires are incendiary. During this time large regional fires are evident and pervasive.  Seasonal fires in the summertime are largely outdoor fires ignited under suspicious circumstances, by negligent use of fireworks, and other natural causes such as lightning strikes.  These fires grow into events that exhibit extreme fire behavior and take the long hot months to extinguish.  However, as the onslaught of wintry weather grips much of the nation the incidence, causes, and severity of fire changes from occurring outside in the wilderness to inside the sanctuary and comfort of our homes.  Fires in our homes wreak just as much havoc as those occurring outside. The National Fire Protection Association estimates that U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 358,500 home structure fires per year during 2011-2015. These fires caused an average of 2,510 civilian deaths, 12,300 civilian injuries, and $6.7 billion in direct property damage per year.

Read More

Scroll to top Call Now Button