As we near the end of fire season, fire prevention is definitely first and foremost in our minds and conversations. California had a tough season as well, which is a potential foreshadowing of what we can expect in coming years. And if we can learn anything from California’s recent fires, it’s that a fire can take a typical city neighborhood and reduce it to ashes it in just hours; as seen most recently in the Redding fire this year.
There are many different factors that impact fire season in our region, but one is the local people. The Willamette Valley is becoming more populated than ever, which can negatively impact fire risk – especially when some are ignorant of fire risks. We must keep basic fire prevention in mind, because the decision one neighbor makes can affect thousands of other community members.
Climate change is another important factor in fire seasons. Climate change is a very real issue to some and to others a hoax, and while we won’t weigh in we know one thing to be a fact: Oregon is in the middle of a severe drought. We aren’t in the business of debating political or environmental issues, but we need to stay aware of what we do every day that makes a good or bad impact on the environment around us – and do our best to limit the negative impacts.
What can we do to prevent neighborhood wildfires? It starts in our own yard. Defensible Space (sometimes called “firescaping”) is a term relating to keeping your yard lean and green – and increases your home’s chance of surviving a wildfire. Defensible space is the buffer you create between a building on your property and the grass, trees, shrubs, or any wildland area that surround it. This defensible space reduces the risk that fire will spread from one area to another, or to a structure, and provides firefighters a safer access area from which to defend a threatened area. Firefighters sometimes do not attempt to protect structures without adequate defensible space, as it is less safe and less likely to succeed.
ReadyforWildfire.org does a fantastic job teaching how to “zone” your property and the basic rules of safety when it comes to fire prevention. This includes where to trim, prune, plant, remove plants, and even store firewood. They also provide diagrams of how to plant on slopes (vertical spacing vs. horizontal spacing) and share some fire-resistant plants.
Luckily there are several steps we can take on our own property to greatly reduce the risk of fires in our neighborhoods. At Hart Property Maintenance, we believe that as a community we should always have a great respect for our environment, and that can start right in our own backyard.
Do you have other tips for fire prevention? Let us know in the comments!