Wildfire doesn’t have to damage your home

April 27, 2012 – This winter’s unseasonably mild and dry weather pattern is causing an alarmingly increased risk for wildfire prompting a national warning for residents to take action to prevent damage from wildfire. States such as Colorado, Tennessee and New York are already seeing the reality of these dangerous conditions.

“The unusually dry and windy weather at this time of year means that wildfires pose a greater threat to individual properties and neighborhoods across the U.S.,” said Michele Steinberg, NFPA’s Firewise Communities Program Manager. “It’s simply easier, in these conditions, for fires to start and burn out of control. But residents can do their part and take simple steps today to lessen the risk of damage if a wildfire occurs.”

While these states continue to recover from the devastating effects of recent wildfires, now is the time for residents across the country to prepare themselves and protect their homes from brush, grass and forest fire damage. Contrary to common perception, a wildfire does not have to burn everything in its path. In fact, clearing property of debris and maintaining landscaping are important, yet simple, first steps for homeowners. Representatives from the National Fire Protection Association's (NFPA) Firewise Communities Program are working to spread the word on how people can make instant and long-term changes to protect their homes and property against wildfire.

Below are additional actions residents can take to reduce the risk of home and property becoming fuel for a wildfire – actions that have saved communities, such as those in South Gulf Cove in Florida.

  • Clear leaves and other debris from gutters, eaves, porches and decks. This prevents embers from igniting your home.
  • Keep lawns hydrated and maintained. Dry grass and shrubs are fuel for wildfire.
  • Remove flammable materials within 3-5 feet of the home’s foundation and outbuildings, including garages and sheds. If it can catch fire, don’t let it touch the house, deck or porch.
  • Limit vegetation surrounding a home, at least 30-100 feet, depending on the area’s wildfire risk. The Firewise Guide to Landscaping can help distinguish the best vegetation based on distance to the home or structure.
  • When wildfire spreads to tree tops, the fire can become more dangerous and reach homes quicker. If there are large trees on the property, prune so the lowest branches are 6-10 feet from the ground.
  • 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. Firewise landscaping and plants lists also are available on the Firewise website.

Those interested in making a lasting change to their home can consider a Firewise construction approach, which means less-flammable materials for homes, decks, porches and fences. This includes using Class-A roofing materials such as 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 about how to keep families safe and reduce homeowners’ risk for wildfire damage at www.Firewise.org. Additionally, complimentary brochures, booklets, pamphlets, videos and much more can be found on the information and resources page of the website and ordered online through the Firewise catalog

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. Firewise is a program of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and 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, +1 617 984-7275

Editor’s Note: Michele Steinberg, NFPA’s Firewise Communities Program Manager, is available for interviews. Please contact the Public Affairs office to make arrangements. NFPA also can arrange interviews with residents in Firewise Communities/USA recognized sites near you. For a list of participating communities, visit the Firewise website.

NFPA (National Fire Protection Association)
1 Batterymarch Park, Quincy, MA 02169-7471 USA
Telephone: +1 617 770-3000 Fax: +1 617 770-0700