With all of the acrid smoke from the raging wildfires in our region, many of us are thinking about fire prevention, especially in rural areas. This came to a head for me a couple of years ago when a house fire near my property quickly turned into a raging forest fire. After the fire was surrounded and extinguished, I reassessed my ability to protect my home and property. In the following days I frantically thinned trees and brush from some of my property lines in an effort to mitigate the danger during the dry summer, but as the fall rain came and the fire danger waned, so did my enthusiasm for all of that hard work! It’s hard to keep up on that project! It seems to be a never ending cycle because of the plant growth.
I have decided to obtain professional help in that regard, because every time I think about heading outside with the chain saw, it makes my back hurt! All of the experts say that creating a wide defensible space is the key to protecting your home, but a more long term thinning approach in all of your forested spaces is also important to reduce fuels in order to keep fire at bay. I have hired a forester to create a forest management plan and clear the unwanted trees and brush. Of course this process is not without cost, but if landowners need funding assistance, there are government grants available to provide funds that encourage and help landowners in reducing fire danger on privately owned properties.
In addition to preventative measures on the perimeter of your home, there are things you can do to prevent fires in your home such as; replacing shake roofs with metal or composition shingles, vigilantly maintaining working smoke and CO2 detectors, stocking fire extinguishers in appropriate places in homes and shops, curing wiring deficiencies such as loose wires, uncovered junction boxes and double tapping in panel boxes.
Another thing may be to provide fire rated doors and walls between garages and living spaces. I once watched with horror as a wave of flame whooshed from the far side of a garage, through an open entry door and into a home where a singular spark had ignited gas fumes from a mechanic project in the garage. The explosion left me and the other mechanic shaken and charred. That incident made me wonder why anyone would ever own an attached garage!