Resources to Cover Wildfire Season Tips for Homeowners to Prepare Homes Evacuate

Published on September 7, 2011

In the last seven days, Texas has been devastated by extensive wildfire activity that has scorched thousands of acres and destroyed several hundred homes. Wildfire safety experts from the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) Firewise® Communities Program and the International Association of Fire Chiefs’ (IAFC) Ready, Set, Go! Program encourages residents to prepare their homes for a wildfire, maintain a situational awareness of the fires and evacuate if called to do so. 

Steps outlined in the IAFC’s Ready, Set, Go! wildfire readiness program, in partnership with NFPA’s Firewise Communities Program, addresses the three major phases of wildfire safety – preparation, situational awareness and survival. Important steps include:

Ready, Set, Go!Ready: Take personal responsibility and prepare long before the threat of a wildfire so your home is ready in case of a fire. Create defensible space by clearing brush away from your home. Use fire-resistant landscaping and harden your home with fire-safe construction measures. Assemble emergency supplies and belongings in a safe spot. Make sure all residents residing within the home are on the same page, and know planned escape routes.

Set: Get your family and home prepared at the onset of fire in your area. Gather family pets and have them prepared to evacuate. Pack your vehicle with your emergency items including medication and personal identification. Stay aware of the latest news from local media and your local fire department for updated information on the fire. Be prepared to evacuate your home if called to do so.

Go: Do not linger once evacuation orders have been given. Leave early and stay away until your area has been cleared for return by local officials. Promptly leaving your home and neighborhood clears roads for firefighters to get equipment in place to best maneuver the wildfire and ensures you and your family’s safety.

Given the current level of wildfire activity in Texas, residents in high-risk areas should be prepared to be Ready, Set and Go.

Available Wildfire Experts:

  • Dave Nuss, NFPA Wildland Fire Operations Division Manager, responsible for NFPA’s national and international wildfire partnerships and programs.
  • Michele Steinberg, NFPA Firewise Communities Manager, responsible for overall management for all aspects of NFPA’s Firewise Communities Program, a wildfire safety and education effort co-sponsored by the USDA Forest Service, the US Department of the Interior, and state forestry organizations.
  • Fire Chief Bob Roper, Ventura County Fire Department, Calif., is the current chair of the IAFC Wildland Fire Policy Committee and sits on the federal-level Wildland Fire Leadership Executive Committee, among other duties.
  • Shawn Stokes, IAFC Assistant Director, National Programs, responsible for IAFC’s direction on wildfire efforts and the Ready, Set, Go! Program. Stokes is also Fire Chief of the Dunn Loring Volunteer Fire Department and an appointed Commissioner to the Fairfax County, Va., Volunteer Fire Commission.

Subject Matter:

  • Preparing residents to evacuate their home in the event of wildfire
  • The magnitude of burned homes, property and natural resources in the U.S.
  • How residents and communities can avoid falling victim
  • How wildfire spreads and why we must adapt to living with wildfire
  • Easy steps anyone can take to reduce the chances of wildfire damage
  • Facts every resident should know about saving their property from wildfire

Residents in low-risk or unaffected areas can prepare their property in the event of wildfire by getting Ready with Firewise principles.

Tips for Texas Residents:

  • Obey outdoor burning bans. Don’t burn trash or debris when conditions are dry or windy. Unsafe burning of leaves, brush, household trash and other debris is the No. 1 cause of wildfires in Texas.
  • If camping or hunting, check local restrictions on campfires. Use an approved gas stove as an alternative for heating and cooking. If charcoal grills are permitted, use them only over fire proof surfaces such as asphalt or bare mineral soil.
  • Dispose of smoking materials properly. Extinguish them in an ashtray. Don’t throw them out your window.
  • Avoid parking and idling in dry grass. Catalytic converters can get hot enough to ignite the grass.
  • Keep water available when using welding equipment or cutting torches around grass and brush. A five-gallon bucket of water with a tote sack in it could prove valuable if sparks or hot pieces of metal catch nearby grass on fire.
  • Avoid setting hot chainsaws or other gas-powered equipment in dry grass, which could ignite after coming into contact with hot mufflers.

How Everyone Can Prepare for 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. If it is brown cut it down to reduce fire intensity.
  • Remove fuel within 3-5 feet of your home’s foundation and out buildings including garages and sheds. If it can catch fire, don’t let it touch your house, deck or porch.
  • Remove dead vegetation surrounding your home, within the 30-100 foot area.
  • 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.

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

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.

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 U.S. Department of the Interior and the National Association of State Foresters.

About Ready, Set, Go! Program
The Ready, Set, Go! Program utilizes firefighters to teach individuals who live in high risk wildfire areas and the wildland-urban-interface (WUI) how to best prepare themselves and their properties against fire threats. Ready, Set, Go! works in a complimentary and collaborative fashion with Firewise and other existing wildland fire public education efforts. It amplifies their messages to individuals to better achieve the common goal we all share in fire-adapted communities.

About IAFC
The IAFC represents the leadership of firefighters and emergency responders worldwide; our members are the world's leading experts in firefighting, emergency medical services, terrorism response, hazardous materials spills, natural disasters, search and rescue, and public safety policy. Since 1873, the IAFC has provided a forum for fire and emergency service leaders to exchange ideas, develop professionally and uncover the latest products and services available to first responders.

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Media Contact: Lorraine Carli, +1 617 984-7275
Program Contact: Michele Steinberg, +1 617 984-7487