How to Protect Your Property From Wildfires

fire-11Article from the Wichita Eagle.

Officials have not yet said what caused this week’s wildfires that have now burned about 405 square miles and several homes in Kansas.

But nationally, 95 percent of all wildfires start because of human activity.

Here are tips from the National Fire Protection Association to help you protect your property, particularly if you live in a rural area, on the edge of town or on a several acre lot.

Areas within 30 feet of the home, including decks and fences

▪ Carefully space plants that are low-growing and free of resins, oils and waxes that burn easily.

▪ Mow the lawn regularly.

▪ Prune trees so the branches are 6 to 10 feet from the ground.

▪ Space conifer trees – such as cedars, firs, larches and pines – 30 feet between crowns. Crowns include the entire tree – limbs and leaves.

▪ Trim trees limbs so they don’t hang over the house.

▪ Don’t use flammable landscaping materials or high-moisture annual and perennial plants within five feet of the house.

▪ Remove dead vegetation from under decks

▪ Buy fire-resistant patio furniture, swing sets and outdoor materials.

▪ Do not place firewood stacks and propane tanks within 30 feet from the home.

▪ Regularly water plants, trees and mulch.

Areas between 30 and 100 feet from the home

▪ Leave 30 feet between clusters of two to three trees, or 20 feet between individual trees.

▪ Mix trees that shed leaves with those that don’t.

▪ Create “fuel breaks,” also called fire roads or fire lines. A driveway, gravel or a walkway creates a gap in vegetation or other combustible material that can slow or stop a fire’s progress.

▪ Prune trees 6 to 10 feet from the ground.

Areas between 100 and 200 feet from the home

▪ Remove smaller conifers – such as cedars, firs, larches and pines – that grow between taller trees.

▪ Remove woody debris.

▪ Cut or trim trees so canopies don’t touch.

Maintenance tips

▪ Prune trees and shrubs 6 to 10 feet from the ground. 

▪ Remove leaf clutter and dead and overhung branches.

▪ Mow the lawn regularly and promptly throw away cutting and debris.

▪ Store firewood more than 30 feet from the house.

▪ Maintain the irrigation system regularly.

Other tips

▪ When disposing of coal or ash outside, drown the charcoal and ash with water, stir and soak again.

▪ Check power equipment and use with caution on hot, dry days.

▪ Remove chains and other metal parts that drag from your vehicle. The sparks can start a fire.

▪ Check tire pressure. Driving on an exposed wheel rim can cause sparks.

▪ Avoid driving or parking on dry grass. Hot exhaust pipes can start the grass on fire.

▪ Never let your brake pads wear too thin. Metal on metal makes sparks.

▪ Smokers should grind cigarettes, cigars, or pipe tobacco in dirt. Never grind them on a stump or log. Never throw it away into the brush or leaves. Use an ashtray while in your car.


Checklist before burning

▪ Check the weather forecast: High winds on days after a burn can reignite ashes left behind.

▪ Have water nearby: Keep a hose or water tank close to the fire.

▪ Create a boundary: Cut a perimeter of short grass and rake the clippings.

▪ Don’t leave: Have enough people around to watch each edge of the fire.

Source: Kevin Doel, public information manager for the State Fire Marshal’s Office

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