Wildfire doesn’t have to damage your home
February 8, 2011 – More than 2,900 wildfires burned 62,554 acres in Florida in 2010. Fifty-two Firewise Communities have lowered their risk of wildfire damage. Highlands County in south-central Florida has three neighborhoods that participate in the national Firewise Communities/USA® Recognition Program. Placid Lakes, Sun N Lakes of Sebring, and Leisure Lakes have all undertaken wildfire safety efforts for several years. (Read Placid Lakes’ community story). Florida communities involved in the program have invested nearly $7 million dollars since 2003 in their local wildfire safety activities.
Note: NFPA staff members Dave Nuss, NFPA’s division manager of wildland fire operations and Michele Steinberg, NFPA’s Firewise Communities Manager are available for interviews. Please contact the Public Affairs office to make arrangements.
Wildfire doesn’t have to burn everything in its path. In fact, clearing your property of debris and regular landscaping are important first steps to reduce your risk for wildfire damage. Here are 8 steps you can take to reduce the risk of your home and property from 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 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.
The National Fire Protection Association’s Firewise Communities Program encourages local solutions for wildfire safety by involving homeowners, community leaders, planners, developers, firefighters, and others in the effort to protect people and property from the risk of wildfire. The program is co-sponsored by the USDA Forest Service, the US Department of the Interior, and the National Association of State Foresters.
NFPA has been a worldwide leader in providing fire, electrical, building, and life safety to the public since 1896. The mission of the international nonprofit organization 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, +1 617 984-7275
Program Contact: Michele Steinberg, +1 617 984-7487