Librarian Files

Fire—Wildfire—Reducing threat

In the Tucson area there are several homes on the edge of grasslands and desert that are susceptible to wildfires. To lessen the chances of a house burning during a wildfire the house should have a "survivable space" around it.  Having a “survivable space” around the house provides room for firefighters to work and will increase the likelihood that the house can survive. Before there is any danger of wildfires, look at the house to create a “survivable space.”
How to create a "survivable space" around a house:
(The actual size and shape of “survivable space” may vary depending on house size, construction materials, slope of the ground and other factors. These are things that should be done within the 30 feet of the house)
1.      Keep all of your grass, scrubs and trees trimmed.

2.      Remove all dead or dying plants and trees.

3.      Make sure all plants and trees are spaced apart. Trees should be isolated from other plants. If plants are located near a tree, they can carry a fire right up to the house.
4.      Clear away all flammable vegetation- dead and dry plants, trees, shrubs and grasses, especially in autumn when they are dry.

5.      Remove and dispose of leaves from rain gutters.

6.      Use decorative rocks, gravel or stepping stones to break up vegetation; these areas can slow a fire’s progress.
7.      Do not put any plants next to foundation vents or directly beneath windows.

8.      Keep your trees pruned to at least 10 feet above the ground.
9.      Do not allow any tree limbs to hang over or touch your house, garage, chimney or roof.

10. Do not plant trees within 15 feet of your house.
11. Don't stack firewood or trimmings near your home.

12. Identify an outdoor water source, such as a hose that reaches all areas of your property.

13. Help remove your neighborhood hazards. Keep your tree limbs trimmed away from utility lines, and remove debris from alleyways. It is generally up to property owners on either side to maintain alleyways.
14. If you notice brush-fire hazards in your neighborhood, speak with the property owners or ask your fire district to evaluate the area for hazards.
15. Make sure your address is clearly visible.
16. Install a retaining wall; it will act as a physical barrier to deflect heat away from your home.
17. For decks, use concrete, flagstone or rock instead of wood.

18. Do not store anything under a deck.
Defending your home from a wildfire:
1.      Wear fire-resistant clothes

2.      Remove all combustibles.
3.      Close all outside vents and shutters.

4.      Fill large containers with water and place around the house exterior.

5.      Hose down a ladder and place it against the roof on the side of the house that is opposite the approaching fire.

6.      Place portable pumps near water sources, like pools and ponds.

7.      Back your car into the garage and close the garage door. Leave car keys in the ignition and unlock all the car doors.

8.      Disconnect the automatic garage door opener.

9.      Position garden hoses so they reach the entire house’s exterior.

"Weeds create home fire threat." Arizona Daily Star. April 6, 2005. Page B3
“Wildfire danger high: here’s what you can do. Arizona Daily Star. May 11, 2009. Page 1.

Article tagged with: Wildfire, Brush Fire, Survivable Space, House, Safety

Last Update: 6-21-2014 4:43pm

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