Wildfire is coming – Are you ready?
The Kenwood Press is presenting a new series on fire protection for local residents, excerpted from the Cal Fire Ready, Set, Go! Program. The program is heartily endorsed by Kenwood Fire Chief Daren Bellach and fire professionals nationwide. These practical tips can save your life, your loved ones, and your property if and when another disaster strikes. Explore the information in more detail at www.readyforwildfire.org/Ready-Set-Go-Campaign, or take these tips to heart as we move forward into a warmer, drier future.
The premise is: Be Ready – be fire-adapted and ready; Be Set – have situational awareness; and Go! – act early.
Each issue, we’ll dive down and explore what that really means, to help you take some action.
Tip #1 – Defensible Space
Just as a buzz cut and eucalyptus oil during a Kindergarten lice outbreak can prevent your wunderkid from spreading those bugs to the rest of your family, keeping your property tidy and shorn can also prevent fire from using vegetation like a ladder to move across and bridge gaps in the tree canopy to keep on burning.
Being ready for wildfire starts with maintaining an adequate defensible space – the buffer you create by removing dead plants, grass, weeds, and other common household hazards. This buffer helps to keep the fire away from your home.
Go outside right now and scan your property. Divide your property into two zones.
Take a look at Zone 1.
Zone 1 includes everything within 30 feet of all buildings and structures, including decks.
• Is your grass well-watered? Is it recently mowed?
• Are all dead plants, grass and weeds removed?
• Are your gutters and roof free from dead or dry leaves, pine needles and moss?
• Is your deck free from vegetation (around and underneath) that could catch fire?
• Are all tree branches trimmed back from your roof and chimney to a minimum of 10 feet? How about from other trees?
• Is your BBQ (with propane tank), your woodpile, or other common hazard further than 30 feet from your house?
• Is there a separation between trees, shrubs and items that could catch fire, such as patio furniture, wood piles, swing sets, etc.?
If you answered no to any of the questions above, get your gloves on and get busy. If you answered yes to all of the above, gold star. Now let’s move on to Zone 2.
Take a look at Zone 2.
Zone 2 includes everything within 100 feet of all buildings and structures, including decks
• Is your annual grass mowed to a nice, short height of four inches (Not sure? The iPhone 6 has a 4.7-inch display size. So make it “iPhone short.”)
• Is leaf litter or duff less than three inches deep?
• Is there vertical space between grass, shrubs and trees? Overhanging trees and tree limbs should be trimmed up at least six feet from the ground. If you’ve got shrubs under your trees, take your shrub height and multiply it by 3. The space between the top of the shrub and the lowest hanging branch on that tree should be at least that big. Example: A five-foot shrub is growing near a tree. 3×5 = 15 feet of clearance needed between the top of the shrub and the lowest tree branch.
• Is there horizontal spacing between shrubs and trees? Horizontal spacing depends on the slope of the land and the height of the shrubs or trees. On flat ground, space between trees should be at least 10 feet, and that distance goes up the steeper the terrain gets. The website www.readyforwildfire.org/Defensible-Space/ has a helpful diagram.
Next column, we’ll discuss hardening your home space against wildfire.