Fire Safe Council - Symposium
Climate Change And The Ecology Of Sierra Nevada Forests
Individual actions are those that a single person can accomplish wearing a mask and not violating “social distancing” practices of six feet separation between individuals. Start with the basic individual preparation steps in the Ready, Set, GO! program and the best practices for COVID-19 safety below. “Ready” is a two-part action: education and taking personal action steps. Become aware of the educational materials provided by your local fire department, Fire Safe Council, FAC, FIREWISE, and insurance companies. The goal here is to increase your understanding / situational awareness of your wildland fire problem and fire behavior in your geographical area. You should then learn how to take basic steps to prepare your home and understand evacuation routes/terms and procedures.
While practicing “social distancing,” go outside of your home and remove combustible vegetation, greenwaste/mulch, or bark within the first 5-feet surrounding your home. Then relocate firewood storage away from the house and remove combustible furniture and other flammable materials. Clean out your gutters and remove the leaf litter on your roof. Ensure that a fire engine can see your address and that they have a 14’ x 14’ clearance from trees and shrubs. Finally, make sure that you have your pool, water tank, hydrant, and garden hoses ready if needed.
“Set” is being ready to evacuate (have your “GO” kit ready) monitoring the weather and “Red Flag” conditions, always being on alert. “GO!” means to act early to self-evacuate or obey law enforcement’s evacuation direction.
The goal is to eliminate the immediate flying ember hazards and to escape safely.
## 2nd Step – HomesDepending upon your situation and capabilities, perform or hire someone to create a 100-foot defensible space zone. Ask your contractor to adhere to the recommended COVID-19 safety rules. Begin to take positive actions to harden your home by simply changing attic/sub-floor vent screening size to 1/8” (eave and cornice vents should be baffled). More elaborate hardening actions can be taken based on your specific situation. In lieu of doing extensive landscape projects and modifying wood decks, consider applying a fire retardant spray. Most of these products will last for a fire season even with minimal rainfall. As we finish focusing on our individual homes, extend offers to help neighbors, especially those who cannot help themselves. You can begin to build community resilience by expanding your mitigation efforts to others, similar to building a chain or barrier.
## 3rd Step – CommunityThe third step involves more community-scale projects. Typical examples are shaded fuel breaks, improving access roads, and conducting fuel treatments. The overall goal is to truly build a fire-adapted community that can withstand a wildfire even if there are no fire resources available.
## ClosingThese three steps are not absolute nor are they in mandated priority order. Each person and situation will dictate their ability to prepare their home. Try to do as much preventive work as possible beginning at your home and work outward within COVID-19 safety provisions for you, neighbors, and contractors.
Some may question hiring a contractor to do work or having neighbors help. Everyone must try to practice “social distancing” while performing mitigation work. State directives do allow “mitigation” work as an exempted activity for homeowners and contractors. We know that utility companies are focusing on their fire prevention and it should go without saying, that we should do everything possible to prevent any human-caused wildfire ignitions. It is unknown how stressed our firefighting response system may be when wildfires occur, therefore we should all take personal responsibility now. Do not wait to receive a letter or notice from your local fire agency that you need to take action. Time is of the essence in preparing for the heightened fire season and the pandemic situation only exacerbates the urgency and challenges our individual and the collective ability for success.