is the enemy of your forest home
Every year many families lose their homes and possessions to the ravages of wildfire. These losses can be minimized if homeowners take the time and trouble to become aware of safety measures to help protect their homes. By observing the precautions and procedures described in this folder, you can reduce the risk of losing your home to wildfire. Only you can decide if it is worth the effort.
Use fire resistant building materials
The roof and exterior structure of your dwelling should be constructed of non-combustible or fire resistant materials such as asphalt roofing shingles, tile slate, sheet iron, aluminum, brick or stone. Wood siding, cedar shakes, exterior wood paneling and other highly combustible materials should be treated with UL- approved fire retardant chemicals.
If You Must Burn...Burn Safely
Have you first considered recycling or composting? If debris burning is allowed in your locality, take the following precautions: burn in a safe incinerator - use a metal barrel covered with a heavy gauge mesh screen. Clear the ground of all flammable material for at least 10 feet around the incinerator. Have adequate water and fire tools available in case the fire escapes. Don’t burn on windy days. Have someone stay with the fire until it is completely out. Check with your local fire department, health department, or forestry service for further information on safe burning.
Clean Your Roof
Clean roof surfaces and gutters regularly to avoid accumulation of leaves, twigs, pine needles and other flammable materials.
Keep Your Chimney Clean
At least twice a year, inspect your chimney or have it inspected for an accumulation of soot or creosote. Clean your chimney at least once a year or more often if necessary. Keep the dampers in good working order.
Store Firewood Away From Your Home
Stack your firewood at least 50 feet away and up-slope from the structure. Maintain a strip at least 20 feet wide around your firewood supply keeping it clear of any combustible material.
Use Only Approved Woodburning Devices
Install only UL-approved woodburning devices and be sure to install them according to manufacture’s recommendations. When you dispose of your stove or fire place ashes, take the following precautions: place ashes in a safe container, soak with water and cover the container, let sit for two days until all hot embers are completely extinguished. Dispose of cold ashes in a cleared area free of all flammable material.
A fuel break at least 30 feet wide should be established and maintained around all structures. Homes built in pine forest should have a minimum fuel break clearance of 75 feet. Wider fuel breaks are needed around buildings located on steep slopes.
The fuel break area may contain single shade trees and ornamental shrubs that do not provide means of rapidly transmitting fire from native vegetation to buildings. Shrubs and trees should be at least 15 feet apart. Remove branches from trees to a height of 15 feet to prevent ground fire from spreading to tops of trees. Trees and vegetation should be kept at least 15 feet away from a chimney or stove pipe. Keep your lawn watered and mowed regularly. Foundation planting should be of the non-resinous variety; do not use mountain laurel, rhododendron or other highly flammable evergreens.
Develop a Water Supply
An adequate and reliable water supply is essential to protect structures and natural areas from fires. Water can be supplied in rural areas by wells with high volume pumps. A plan should be developed to locate and note nearby creeks, rivers, lakes and ponds so that firefighters can obtain additional water if needed. Swimming pools may also be considered a source of additional water supply. A garden hose outlet should be installed on the exterior of each dwelling. One hundred feet of hose should be racked and connected to the outlet to be available to protect all sides of the house and roof. It is recommended that additional outlets be installed at least 50 feet from the house for firefighting use.
Plan Adequate Access and Escape
Each home should have at least two different entrance and exit routes. All roads leading to your property should be at least 16 feet wide to allow for easy entrance of fire trucks and the passage of vehicles evacuating the area. Roads should not be located in areas with grades in excess of 12%. Dead end roads that terminate in a cul-de-sac should have a minimum turn around radius of 60 feet. Names of roads should be clearly indicated at all intersections. The name and address of the occupants should be prominently posted at the driveway entrances. Bridges should be constructed to support a minimum gross vehicle weight of 30,000 pounds to accommodate firefighting equipment. Plan a safe retreat route for you and your family before forest fire occurs, and make sure everyone knows the plan. Emergency phone numbers should be posted.
Have Fire Tools Handy
Your home should have cache of fire tools consisting of the following; a ladder long enough to reach the roof in case of a roof fire; 100 feet of pre-connected garden hose; a shovel, a rake and a bucket. These tools should be kept in an easily accessible place, and all occupants of the house should know where they are.
The seven member Middle-Atlantic Interstate Fire Protection Compact works to promote effective forest fire control and prevention in the region. The Compact member states - Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia - share and exchange information, assist in fire emergencies and participate in educational and training efforts. The theme of the 1984 training meeting was "Fire Prevention for Rural Woolland Communities." Information for this brochure was presented at that meeting.
Department of Agriculture - Forest Service
2320 S.DuPont Highway
Dover, Delaware 19901
Department of Natural Resources Forest Service
Tawes State Office Building, E-1
580 Taylor Avenue
Annapolis, Maryland 21401
Phone: (410) 260-8531
Department of Environmental Protection
Bureau of Forest Fire Management
501 East State Street
Trenton, New Jersey 08625
Phone: (609) 292-2977
Department of Natural Resources - Division of Forestry
1855 Fountain Square, H-1
Columbus, Ohio 43224
Phone: (614) 265-6694
Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
Bureau of Forestry - Division of Forest Fire Protection
PO Box 8552
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17105-8552
Phone: (717) 787-2925
Department of Forestry
PO Box 3758
Charlottesville, Virginia 22903-0758
Phone: (804) 977-6555
Bureau of Commerce
Division of Forestry
1900 Kanawha Blvd., East
Charleston, West Virginia 25305-0180
Phone: (304) 558-2788
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