Firewise tips help Massachusetts residents reduce their homes’ risk from wildfire
April 5, 2012 – A recent brush fire in Brimfield, Mass. and others in neighboring states underscore the threat these fires pose to homes and property across New England. Prolonged drought conditions, a lack of snowpack, warm temperatures, high winds and excess tree debris from last year’s devastating tornado and October blizzard, have contributed to dangerous fire conditions that experts predict will continue into Spring.
“The unusually dry and windy weather at this time of year – when many Massachusetts homeowners obtain burning permits to rid their yards of debris – means that wildfires pose a greater threat to individual properties and neighborhoods throughout the Commonwealth,” said Michele Steinberg, NFPA’s Firewise Communities Program Manager. “But residents can do their part and take simple steps today to lessen the risk of damage if a wildfire occurs.”
The Firewise Communities Program provides a number of resources to help residents get started on wildfire safety activities. 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.
Wildfire doesn’t have to burn everything in its path. In fact, cleaning your property of dead leaves, needles and branches, and maintaining your landscaping are important first steps. Below are additional actions 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.
- Create a “fire-free” area within five feet of the home, using non-flammable landscaping materials such as rocks, pavers and/or high-moisture content annuals and perennials.
- Remove dead vegetation from under your deck and within 10 feet of the house.
- Remove flammable materials (firewood stacks, propane canisters, dry vegetation) within 30 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.
- If you have trees on your property, prune so the lowest branches are 6 to 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 list are also available on the Firewise website.
- Keep your lawn hydrated and maintained. Dry grass and shrubs are fuel for wildfire.
Learn more about how to keep your family safe and reduce your home’s risk for wildfire damage at www.firewise.org.
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.