Living with wildland fire: are you ready? | PostIndependent.com
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Living with wildland fire: are you ready?

Ron Biggers

Editor’s Note: This article is the first in a four-part series that will run through Tuesday.This article gives information to help homeowners living in wildland interface areas learn what they can do to save lives and property if a wildland fire threatens their home.The focus of this article is how to be fire safe inside and outside the house.How to be fire safe insideConsider installing residential sprinklers.In the kitchen:-Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen.-Maintain electric and gas stoves in good operating condition.-Move handles of pots and pans containing hot liquids away from the front of the stove.-Place flammable curtains and towels away from burners on the stove.-Store matches and lighters out of the reach of children.In the living room:-Install a screen on your fireplace-Store the fireplace ashes in a noncombustible container and dispose of only when cold.-Clean fireplace chimneys and flues at least once a year.In the hallway:-Install smoke alarms between living and sleeping areas.-Test smoke alarms monthly and replace batteries twice a year.-Vacuum smoke alarms regularly to remove dust particles.-Ensure electrical outlets are designed to handle appliance loads.-Install child safety plugs on electrical outlets.-Replace electrical cords that do not work properly. -Replace electrical cords that have loose connections or are frayed.In the bedroom:-If you sleep with the door closed, install a detector inside room.-Turn off electric blankets and other electric appliances when not in use.-Do not smoke in bed.In the bathroom:-Disconnect hot appliances such as curling irons when done.-Store appliances in a safe location until cool.-Keep flammable items such as towels away from wall and floor heaters.In the garage:-Mount a fire extinguisher in the garage.-Have tools such as a shovel, hoe, rake, and bucket available for use in an emergency.-Install a solid door with self-closing hinges between living areas and the garage.-Dispose of oily rags in metal containers.-Store all combustibles away from ignition sources such as water heaters.-Disconnect electrical tools and appliances when not in use.-Allow hot tools such as glue guns and soldering irons to cool before storing. How to be fire safe outsideMaintain a defensible space around your home.Roof:-Remove dead branches overhanging your roof.-Remove any branches within 10 feet of your chimney.-Clean all dead leaves and needles from our roof and gutters.-Install a roof that meets the fire resistance classification of “Class C” or better.-Cover your chimney and stove pie with a nonflammable screen or smaller mesh.Construction:-Build your home away from ridge tops, canyons and areas between high point on a ridge.-Use fire-resistive building materials.-Enclose the underside of balconies and above-ground decks with fire-resistive materials.-Limit the size and number of windows facing large areas of vegetation.Landscaping:-Remove all flammable vegetation at least 30 feet from all structures.-Plant low-growing, fire-resistive plants: well watered turf, groundcovers, perennials and annuals. -Space native trees and shrubs at least 10 feet apart.-Reduce the number of trees in heavily wooded areas to a minimum of 10 feet apart.-Prune tree branches to eight feet above ground, remove low brush and dry plant litter.Yard:-Stack wood piles at least 30 feet away from all structures.-Locate propane tanks at least 30 feet away from all structures.-Provide 10 feet clearance around propane tanks.Emergency water supply:-Maintain an emergency water supply; minimum supply of 2,500 gallons.-Clearly mark all emergency water sources, i.e.; pools, wells, ponds, etc.-Consider an emergency generator to operate any pumps.Access:-Identify at least two exit routes from your neighborhood.-Construct roads that allow two-way traffic.-Design road width, grade, curves and bridges to allow access for large vehicles.-Construct turnouts along one-way roads.-Clear flammable vegetation at least 10 feet from roads and driveways.-Make sure your street is named and a sign is visibly posted.-Use large house numbers that are easily visible from the road.If you have questions on wildland fuels mitigation to create defensible around your home, evacuation planning, or firewise construction for a new home, contact your protection agency or Ron Biggers, fire protection analyst for the Glenwood Springs Fire Department, at 928-6033.


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