This has been a bad year for fires across North America which hasn’t been helped by what many are calling the worst drought in 50 years. As of Friday there have been 5,612 fires in Canada & another 38,436 here in the US. This has resulted in nearly 8.5 million combined acres burned (4.4 US / 4.1Canada) with numerous houses & building lost.
- Is your address visible? Check throughout the year to make sure the sign is easily visible from the street & not overgrown. If there are multiple houses sharing a shared drive you should also have the numbers on the house. 4” high numbers
- Is your driveway large enough for fire trucks? Up to 150’ long drives should be at least 12’ wide. Do not forget that there should be no trees overgrowing the drive way & if there are, they need to be pruned up to 14’ high
- Is your driveway longer than 150’ long – if so it should be 20’ wide with a 30’ turnaround at the house
- Is the driveway and any culverts or bridges able to handle the load / rated to 10,000 pounds
- Have you cleaned up your buffer / defensible zone (see below) of old cars, lumber piles, downed trees, and other debris so firefighters can move around & protect all sides of your house?
- If you have fences separating parts of the yard, are the gates easily accessible & able to be opened with thick gloves?
- Is the area you live in surrounded by Evergreens or prairie grasses? Make sure you reduce dramatically or eliminate them (and others plants in high risk areas) within a 30’ buffer zone as shown in the picture above (Courtesy of Wisconsin’s DNR)
- Have you trimmed back & eliminated all ladder fuels within a 100’ or more from the house? This is mainly completed by mowing or bush-whacking tall grasses, trimming shrubs & pruning all the lower branches of trees up six to ten feet. A ten foot spacing from branches is also recommended from evergreens.
- How close is your fire wood or other materials to your house or propane tanks – they should be kept out of the 30’ zone (or 30’s from) and optimally be around 75’ away
- Have you cleaned up all leaves, needles & fallen branches around any foundation plantings, next to the building and under your decks?
- Have you considered using stone or rock next to your foundation instead of foundation plantings, & mulch?
- Got Lawn? Make sure it is well watered & cut regularly (3 inches or less)
- Got Propane? There should be a perfectly clear space expanding out ten feet all the way around your propane tank (and yes it should be at least 10’ away from the house though more is better)
- Planning a renovation or an addition? Consider using less flammable materials such as brick, stone and metal.
- Check your fireplace to ensure the chimney cap assembly will block sparks (from not only getting out but in) along with looking for cracks in the brick and liners.
- Roofs & gutters are a big concern because of how easily they trap & hold leaves, needles and twigs, so make sure they are cleaned out regularly.
- The heat given off by a fire is amazing and can light draperies on fire, so you might want to consider installing protective shutters or fire resistant drapes.
- Have you installed noncombustible 1/4 inch or smaller mesh screening on attic/soffit vents and if needed around elevated wood decks to help keep out embers.
- While a garden hose is woefully inadequate for a large fire, having one set up can help wet things down before hand or prevent a small fire from growing into a larger one.
- Last but certainly not least – do you have working smoke detectors in your home?
Hopefully with a little common sense & this checklist your home will be safe if the worst should happen. Speaking of common sense, there is some good news coming out of this drought; namely that people are finally starting to look a little closer into the Ethanol lie.