While so many community members are stuck at home, the Colville Tribal Emergency Services and Mount Tolman Fire Center have released information on how to prepare your house for the upcoming fire season.
Maybe this is a good way to spend time at home practicing good social distancing.
So what can you do?
The National Fire Protection Agency refers to the actual home, including roof and deck, along with the area within five feet of the house as the “Immediate Zone.”
Science has shown that this is the most important zone to clean up, because during a fire it is the most vulnerable to embers and therefore home ignition.
So start there with these activities:
- Clean roofs and gutters of dead leaves, debris and pine needles that could catch embers.
- Replace or repair any loose or missing shingles or roof tiles to prevent ember penetration.
- Reduce embers that could pass through vents in the eaves by installing 1/8 inch metal mesh screening.
- Clean debris from exterior attic vents and install 1/8 inch metal mesh screening to reduce embers.
- Repair or replace damaged or loose window screens and any broken windows screen or box-in areas below patios and decks with wire mesh to prevent debris and combustible materials from accumulating.
- Move any flammable material away from outside walls. This could be mulch, flammable plants, leaves and needles, firewood piles – or anything that can burn. Remove anything stored underneath decks or porches.
If you get those things done – or if you’ve done what you can within the immediate zone – move out to what NFPA calls the intermediate zone.
“We would want home owners to do clearing for at least 30 feet from the home,” said Colville Tribal EMS’ Jim Nanamkin. “Clearing doesn’t mean you have to take things down to bare dirt for the first 30 around the homes. Clear brush and limb trees within that first 30 feet.
Here are a few actions to take in the intermediate zone:
- Clear vegetation from under large stationary propane tanks.
- Keep lawns and native grasses mowed to a height of four inches.
- Remove ladder fuels (vegetation under trees) so a surface fire cannot reach the crowns. Prune trees up to six to ten feet from the ground; for shorter trees do not exceed 1/3 of the overall tree height.
- Water plants, trees and lawns to keep them from becoming dry.
- Space trees to have a minimum of eighteen feet between crowns with the distance increasing with the percentage of slope.
- Trees and shrubs in this zone should be limited to small clusters of a few each to break up the continuity of the vegetation across the landscape.
- Create fuel breaks with driveways, walkways/ paths, patios and decks.
Tree placement should be planned to ensure the mature canopy is no closer than ten feet to the edge of the structure.