California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection
Amador-El Dorado Unit
CONTACT: Teri Mizuhara, Fire Prevention Specialist II, 530.708.2724
Are You READY? Part 1 of 3
Camino - "A new and improved "Ready-Set-Go" fire and life safety program has been developed by CAL FIRE. The Amador-El Dorado Unit of the CAL FIRE will be running a three part series of articles highlighting each component. Every two weeks an article covering one component of this comprehensive educational program will be released. This week we will begin with part one "READY".
Unit Chief Kelly Keenan believes that "everyone living in the Sierra's has a responsibility that many urban/suburban dwellers do not face. Fire is a natural part of our ecosystem which helps clear out the weeds and brush (understory) and create a healthier forest dynamic. Since naturally occurring fire has not been allowed to do what it should because fire agencies must suppress fires that threaten lives and property, it is vital that people do their part and create a space around their homes. Defensible Space Works! Creating a buffer zone between your home and the wildland greatly reduces the risk of your home catching on fire from radiant heat or flying embers. These embers can destroy homes and even entire neighborhoods that are far from the actual flame front of a wildfire." Keys to creating defensible space are:
Zone One extends up to 30 feet (or your property line whichever is closer) from every structure on your property
Remove all dead and dying vegetation
Zone Two extends from 30 feet to 100 feet (or to your property line whichever is closer)
The key is to keep plant material separated from each other both horizontally and vertically, this prevents the vegetation from acting like a ladder and allowing the fire to move from the ground to the tree canopies
Preparing and practicing your families' disaster plan is also key to being READY for fire season. This plan can make evacuating ahead of a wildfire or other disaster far less stressful. "Creating a 'Family Disaster Plan' is the first step in preparing for a disaster. It is important that every member of your family understands what to do in the event of a wildfire in your area. Practice this plan on a regular basis so that each member of your family knows their role and what they need to do; keep a copy of this written plan in an accessible place so that you can refer to it quickly and easily. Things to include in the plan are: meeting locations away from your home, communication plans and evacuation plans for your family and your pets. Identify where your gas, water and electrical shut-offs are and how to use them. Plan several evacuation routes in your neighborhood and drive them so you are familiar with them day or night. Assemble emergency supply kits and have them ready for yourself, family and animals. Don't forget to include a portable radio and/or scanner so you can stay updated on critical fire information" says Chief Keenan.
Finally, take steps to make your home more fire resistant; if you are building a new home or renovating your home, consider these fire resistive measures (hardening your home):
Roofs are the most vulnerable surface on your house. Make sure your roof is made out of "class A" materials, such as composition, metal or tiles.
The following areas of your home should be checked annually and maintained as needed:
Check that your chimney has an approved spark arrestor (screen) in good condition covering the opening. The screen should have openings no smaller than 3/8 inch and no larger than 1/2 inch.
Wind driven embers can fly up to one mile during a wildland fire so 'hardening' your home with fire resistive material, creating a solid buffer zone of defensible space and preparing and practicing your Family Disaster Plan are critical. "Being READY for wildfire season is your best defense. Preplanning for a disaster can save your life and the lives of the ones you love" adds Chief Keenan.
For more detailed information on what you have read, please visit CAL FIRE's "Read-Set-Go" website at www.ReadyForWildfire.org or call 530-644-2345 to receive a free brochure.