Arizonans use Firewise tips to reduce their homes risk from wildfire

Published on June 6, 2011
Wildfire doesn’t have to damage your home

June 6, 2011 – Wildfires continue to threaten homes in Arizona, as evidenced by news reports of the massive wildfires currently sweeping through Eastern Arizona. Blackening over 184,000 acres and nearly 287 square miles, the latest fire is the third largest in the state’s history. In 2002, a blaze burned more than 732 square miles and one in 2005 burned about 387 square miles near a Phoenix suburb. With over 2,000 firefighters now on the scene, the fire has also forced the evacuation of several hundred residents.

In 2010, more than 1,500 wildland fires burned 74,445 acres across the state. With drier than expected conditions threatening Arizona this month and with its peak wildfire season from May to July, communities are looking for ways to stay ahead of the threat and reduce their wildfire risk. Many Arizona communities have already lowered their risk by taking steps to become recognized Firewise Communities. Towns like Rio Verde and neighborhoods such as Hidden Valley Ranch and Highland Pines in Prescott, and Forest Highlands in Flagstaff are among 40 communities within the state that participate in the national Firewise Communities/USA® Recognition Program. These communities have undertaken wildfire safety efforts for several years by clearing their yards of leaves and other debris, and pruning tree branches around their property.

Note: Michele Steinberg, NFPA’s Firewise Communities Manager, is available for interviews. Please contact the Public Affairs office to make arrangements .

Wildfire doesn’t have to burn everything in its path. In fact, regular landscaping is an important first step to reduce your risk for wildfire damage. Here are eight measures you can take to reduce the risk of your home and property becoming fuel for a wildfire.

  • Clear leaves and other debris from gutters, eaves, porches and decks. This prevents embers from igniting your home.
  • Keep your lawn hydrated and maintained. Dry grass and shrubs are fuel for wildfire.
  • Remove fuel within 3-5 feet of your home’s foundation and outbuildings, including garages and sheds. If it can catch fire, don’t let it touch your house, deck or porch.
  • Clear vegetation surrounding your home, at least 30 to 100 feet, depending on your area’s wildfire risk.

Wildfire can spread to tree tops. If you have large trees on your property, prune so the lowest branches are 6 to 10 feet high.

  • Don’t let debris and lawn cuttings linger. Dispose of these items quickly to reduce fuel for fire. When planting, choose slow-growing, carefully placed shrubs and trees so the area can be more easily maintained.
  • Landscape with native and less-flammable plants. Your state forestry agency or county extension office can provide plant information.

Planning to update your home? Consider Firewise construction materials (PDF, 481 KB) for decks, porches and fences. Ask your retailer for “Class-A” materials including asphalt shingles and metal, cement and concrete products. Double-paned or tempered glass windows also make a home more resistant to heat and flames.

Learn more to keep your family safe and reduce your home’s risk for wildfire damage at www.firewise.org. Find additional landscaping tips, checklists for preparing and maintaining your property, and fire-safe construction choices.

About Firewise
The Firewise Communities Program encourages local solutions for wildfire safety by involving homeowners, community leaders, planners, developers, firefighters and others in creating fire-adapted communities – places where people and property are safer from the risk of brush, grass and forest fires. The program is co-sponsored by the USDA Forest Service, the US Department of the Interior and the National Association of State Foresters.

About the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
NFPA is a worldwide leader in fire, electrical, building, and life safety. The mission of the international nonprofit organization founded in 1896 is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating consensus codes and standards, research, training, and education.

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Media Contact: Lorraine Carli: publicaffairs@nfpa.org, +1 617 984-7275
Program Contact: Michele Steinberg: msteinberg@nfpa.org, +1 617 984-7487

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