Living with fire A Guide for the Homeowner Moonlight Fire 2007 ~ Photo courtesy Ron Lunder
Hough Complex, Taylorsville 2013 Photo courtesy Randy Ownings
Funding for this project provided by:
Plumas County Board of Supervisors Plumas County Office of Emergency Services US Forest Service — Plumas & Lassen National Forests — CAL FIRE Graeagle Fire Protection District Gold Mountain Community Services District
Published by: (530) 283-0800
EATHER PUBLISHING CO., INC.
In conjunction with:
P.O. BOX B, QUINCY, CA 95971
Community Services District Plumas County
For more information visit www.plumasfiresafe.org
Page 2 • Living With Fire
Greetings and welcome to the 2014 edition of Living with Fire. We hope that the information provided in this special insert inspires you to take action, to get engaged with managing your property, to become more involved with your neighborhood and your community. Because of the incredibly dry winter that we are emerging from we face a potentially severe fire season. Our goal with this publication is to increase your awareness of how to maintain your property in such a way that improves the probability that your home will survive a wildfire. We have provided many tips that can help you to prepare for this fire season. Please use these resources and take the time to incorporate our information into your personal wildfire preparations. There are many exciting partnerships underway in Plumas County in regards to forest management, disaster preparedness, and the development of new Firewise communities. Many organizations are working together to find creative solutions to the wildfire threats that we face. Throughout this publication you will find examples of the collaboration that is required in order for us to manage our forests in ways that will allow for more frequent, less devastating wildfires in the future. Join us as we work to make Plumas County a place that embraces difficult challenges by working together.
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Living with Fire Table of Contents Page No. 2
Introduction, Home surviveability
Wildfire threats to your home, four zones diagram
Accecss zone diagram
Built zone diagram
Hazardous Fuels Reduction programs in Plumas County
An introduction to the Firewise program
A first hand perspective on community evacuations
Plumas County Evacuation Plan
Structure protection during a wildfire and fire safe landscaping
Sincerely, Nils Lunder, Coordinator, Plumas County Fire Safe Council
Living With Fire A Special Supplement created by the staff of
Feather Publishing Co., Inc., and the Plumas County Fire Safe Council
12-13 Six steps to creating an effective defensible space 14-15 Animal evacuation planning 16
Frequently asked Questions about Defensible Space
Burning yard debris
Contributors: Nils Lunder, Jerry Hurley, Mike De Lasaux, Chuck Bowman, Mike Callahan, Sue McCourt, Shane Vargas, Jerry Sipe, Dan Martynn, Ryan Bauer, Darrel Jury.
Local partnerships in action
Plumas County Office of Emergency Services
Plumas County Fire Safe Council: www.plumasfiresafe.org
Information about the Plumas County Fire Safe Council
Michael C. Taborski, Publisher Sherri McConnell, Advertising Manager Eva Small, Graphics Dept. Tom Forney, Production Manager Feather Publishing: P.O. Box B, 287 Lawrence St., Quincy, CA 95971 (530) 283-0800 • FAX (530) 283-3952 email: email@example.com
J’s Got You Covered
Is your home fire safe? Brush Cutters • String Trimmers Lawn Mowers • Weed Whackers 55 Delleker Dr., Portola
Wildfire will threaten your house in three ways...
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Living With Fire â€˘ Page 3
Photo courtesy David McNew/Getty Images
More houses burn due to flying embers than any other reason. If fire conditions are right, embers can be lofted high into the air and transported more than a mile. Burning embers can also be carried by wind and fire whirls. If these burning embers land in easily ignitable materials, a new fire can start.
CONTACT BY FLAMES Photo courtesy Ken Walgren
This type of threat occurs when vegetation and other fuels burning near the house produce flames that come in contact with the home and ignite it. Often, it happens when fire burns through a uniform layer of vegetation right up to the house. Direct contact by flames is probably what most homeowners visualize when they think of a house burning during wildfire.
Radiated heat melted the vinyl siding on this house. Flames never came in contact with it. Radiated heat is produced by invisible electromagnetic waves that travel out in all directions from a flame. When a house receives enough radiated heat for sufficient time, it will ignite. Sometimes radiated heat can burst windows and allow burning embers to enter the house.
"It is not where your home is located that necessarily determines the ignition risk. It's how ignitable the house is as determined by the Home Ignition Zone" Jack Cohen, USFS Fire Researcher
What can homeowners & communities do to reduce wildfire threat? The Living With Wildfire threat reduction recommendations are presented according to four zonesâ€Ś.
This zone provides recommendations for home construction.
This zone provides suggestions that help emergency responders locate your home in a timely manner.
This zone is outside and between the Defensible Space Zones. Efforts are to minimize fire damage on undeveloped areas which include vacant lots, common areas, green belts, and undeveloped lands.
Defensible Space Zone
This zone pertains to the vegetation surrounding your home, both ornamental and landscape plants and native plants.
Page 4 â€˘ Living With Fire
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
This zone provides suggestions that help emergency responders locate your home in a timely manner and to provide emergency equipment and personnel SAFE access to structures, while allowing residents to concurrently evacuate SAFELY.
Turnouts: Homes located
Street Signs: Street signs should be posted at each intersection leading to your home. Sign characters should be at least 3 inches high, reflective, and non-combustible.
along long narrow dead end streets and driveways over 800 feet should have turnouts every 400 feet that will allow two-way traffic.
Address: The home address
should be visible from the street, made of reflective, non-combustible material with characters at least 3 inches high.
Remove vegetation from both sides of the driveway, extending at least 10 feet and at least a 15-foot vertical clearance above driveway.
Turnarounds: Homes located at
the end of long driveways or dead-end roads should have turnaround areas suitable for large fire equipment. Turnarounds can be a cul-de-sac with at least a 45-foot radius or a location suitable for a three-point turn.
Cal-Sierra Title Company Quincy
295 Main St, PO Box 238 Quincy, CA 95971 (530) 283-0700; FAX 283-1438
Locally owned and operated since 1962 Chester
289 Main St, #3, PO Box 1141 Chester, CA 96020 (530) 258-0700; FAX 258-2757
7597 Hwy. 89 #5, PO Box 424 Graeagle, CA 96103 (530) 836-0700; FAX 836-1415
608 Court St., PO Box 1754 Susanville, CA 96130 (530)257-8866; FAX 257-8846
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Living With Fire • Page 5
Defensible Space increases the safety of fire suppression personnel
Why 100 Feet? Following these simple steps can dramatically increase the chance of your home surviving a wildfire! A Defensible Space of 100 feet around your home is required by law. The goal is to protect your home while providing a safe area for firefighters.
1 – Clearing an area of 30 feet immediately surrounding your home is critical. This area requires the greatest reduction in flammable vegetation.
Every year firefighters are killed while fighting wildfires. This includes deaths associated with and protecting homes and communities.
“Defensible Space” around homes is proven to save lives by providing firefighters a more secure area in which to work while protecting structures. Structures that have inadequate defensible space or limited access will commonly not be protected firefighters. This is due to the fact that these types of properties pose a risk to their safety and they have a higher likelihood that their suppression efforts will be unsuccessful. A fuel reduction project will modify fire behavior. Fuel reduction projects along roadsides help keep evacuation routes open, this improves public safety. Treated roadsides improve citizen evacuation and allow safer access for emergency responders entering the community.
– The fuel reduction zone in the remaining 70 feet (or to property line) will depend on the steepness of your property and the vegetation. Spacing between plants improves the chance of stopping a wildfire before it destroys your home. You have two options in this area:
a Create horizontal and vertical spacing between plants. The amount of space will depend on how steep the slope is and the size of the plants. b Large trees do not have to be cut and removed as long as all of the plants beneath them are removed. This eliminates a vertical “fire ladder.”
When clearing vegetation, use care when operating equipment such as lawnmowers. One small spark may start a fire; a string trimmer is much safer. Remove all build–up of needles and leaves from your roof and gutters. Keep tree limbs trimmed at least 10 feet from any chimneys and remove dead limbs that hang over your home or garage. The law also requires a screen over your chimney outlet of not more than ½ inch mesh. 1. These regulations affect most of the grass, brush, and timber-covered private lands in the State. Some fire department jurisdictions may have additional requirements. Some activities may require permits for tree removal. Also, some activities may require special procedures for, 1) threatened and endangered species, 2) avoiding erosion, and 3) protection of water quality. Check with local officials if in doubt. Current regulations allow an insurance company to require additional clearance. The area to be treated does not extend beyond your property. The State Board of Forestry and Fire Protection has approved Guidelines to assist you in complying with the new law. Contact your local CAL FIRE office for more details.
Page 6 • Living With Fire
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Home Survivability — Who Wins and Who Loses...
Why do some houses survive a wildfire, while others are destroyed? Evidence suggests that house survival during a wildfire is not a completely random phenomenon. Rather, survivability is determined by house construction materials and techniques, the characteristics of the vegetation surrounding the home, and routine maintenance done by the homeowner. There are many things that you, the homeowner, can do to ensure that your home is fire safe. Pre-fire actions completed by the resident, often determine the survivability of structures. The “winners” will be those people who implement and maintain pre-fire activities. The homeowner has the largest role in determining whether on not a structure burns in a wildfire.
HUMAN BEHAVIOR IS JUST AS IMPORTANT AS FIRE BEHAVIOR IN SAVING YOUR HOME DURING THE FIRE
AFTER THE FIRE
Embers created from torching trees and burning structures cause most homes to ignite. Most houses are burned by embers: Photos courtesy of CAL FIRE: www.fire.ca.gov
• igniting uncleared vegetation next to the house • igniting firewood next to the house BE • igniting combustible materials on decks•
• landing on shake roofs • igniting vegetation under decks • blowing into unscreened attic/crawl space vents
Chimneys: Screened with 1/8 inch wire mesh or approved spark arrestor.
Foundation & Attic Vents: Unscreened vents allow embers into the structure.
Windows: Install windows that are double-pane with at least one pane of tempered glass. Firewood: Not stored next to the house. Keep at least 30’ from house.
Roof: Class A/fire-resistant. Keep free of needles, leaves and branches.
Siding: In fire-prone areas use non-combustible siding, such as stucco, brick or cement board.
Eaves: Heat traps for hot air and gases. “Box in” to allow heat to escape.
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Hazardous Fuel Reduction (HFR) work in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI): Options for landowners for fuels treatments in Plumas County
Photo provided by Dan Martynn, NRCS
Owning private forest land is a big commitment. The work required to maintain property can be a daunting task. An even larger challenge presents itself if landowners are working to get their property into a fire resilient condition after decades of deferred maintenance. Do not despair; there are numerous resources available to landowners in Plumas County who take the initiative to begin the process of managing their property. The Plumas County Fire Safe Council (PC FSC) has been helping willing landowners to reduce hazardous fuels on their properties for over 12 years. During that time we have helped 20 communities reduce their hazardous fuels by obtaining funding that has facilitated the treatment of 3,500 acres of private land. We are just finishing a project along LaPort Road, we will be treating approximately 70 acres around the Indian Valley this summer and we are planning projects along Highway 70 outside of Quincy, along C-Road and near Whitehawk. Our voluntary program provides treatment to private forest lands that have high density vegetation that will allow ground fires to enter the forest canopy. The mission of the PC FSC is "To reduce the loss of natural and human made resources caused by wildfire
Living With Fire • Page 7
through Firewise community programs and pre-fire activities." We rely on community members to work with their friends and neighbors to apply to our program. Once we have sufficient participants to make the project feasible for contractors (usually around 100 acres) then we seek funding from a variety of sources to secure the funds necessary to treat the lands within the project. The entire process can take several years to go from the planning process to implementation, but we are confident that our program is providing a strong benefit for the communities that we serve. The most important outcome is that residents become educated on how to manage their property in a way that reduces the potential of a high intensity wildfire destroying their home and degrading wildlife habitat, watershed value or aesthetics. For more information on the PC FSC, please see their website: http://plumasfiresafe.org/ . The USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) is another resource for private forest land owners in our region. They invite all private forest landowners in Plumas and Sierra Counties who are concerned about the threat of wildfire or general forest health of their property, to sign-up for their Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). EQUIP can provide funding for landowners to remove brush and small diameter trees (<9” diameter at breast height), hand pile and burn slash, or improve wildlife habitat and general forest health. EQIP is a competitive process where landowners develop a Conservation Plan for their property with the assistance of the local NRCS office. After the plan has been developed, then that Plan is ranked using State criteria and the highest ranked projects are selected for funding. Over the last 5 years the local NRCS office in Quincy has assisted 30 different landowners throughout the Feather River watershed with forestry related projects that has brought in over $750,000 to assist landowners. They would like to reach out to those people who may not be familiar with NRCS or the variety of Conservation Programs they offer private landowners. “My job is to help people, help the land” says Dan Martynn, District Conservationist for the local NRCS Partnership Office in Quincy. Anyone interested in learning more about one of their Programs or who would like to arrange a visit to explore Conservation opportunities on their property should contact Dan Martynn at 530-283-7511 or Dan.Martynn@ca.usda.gov. The USDANRCS Local Partnership Office in Quincy is housed within the Supervisor’s Office of the Plumas National Forest.
SPI believes in wise use of OUR forests. Fire safety is our concern; please make it yours also. Healthy, productive forests are safe forests.
FORESTS ARE AMERICA’S #1 RENEWABLE RESOURCE
SIERRA PACIFIC INDUSTRIES Quincy
“Taking pride in everything we do.”
Page 8 • Living With Fire
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Firewise Communities/USA What is Firewise? Citizen involvement is the cornerstone of Firewise Communities/USA Recognition Program. As a resident whose home is located in a region susceptible to wildfires, this program can help your community become Firewise. As participants in the program, you and your neighbors will learn how to decrease the risk of losing your homes and to best protect yourselves in the event of a wildfire. Within wildland/urban intermix areas, firefighters lack the resources to defend every home that is threatened during extreme wildfires. However, communities whose residents take steps to reduce their vulnerability have a greater chance or surviving a wildfire. Firewise Communities/USA offers residents in fire prone areas a unique opportunity to implement Firewise practices specially tailored to individual and community needs. You and your neighbors will gain useful knowledge and skills to prepare for a wildfire before it occurs, while also helping you maintain an acceptable level of fire readiness. Firewise homes and communities allow firefighters to concentrate on fighting the wildfire, which ultimately saves more homes and lives. What’s more, even a few preventative actions can prove critical, because when adequately prepared, homes have often survived a wildfire without the intervention of the fire department. Firewise Communities/USA provides up-todate information for homeowners and communities to help prepare for wildfires before they start. Residents who participate in the Firewise process create an action plan that commits them to a sustained program of wildfire mitigation, which is generally both physically doable and cost-effective. Ultimately, by creating your own plan, you’ll be able to develop unique solutions to your wildfire mitigation challenges.
Benefits of being a Firewise Community 1. Framework for Action Meeting the criteria for becoming a Firewise Communities/USA site helps communities get organized and find direction for their wildfire safety efforts. Like the first rungs on a ladder, the criteria help get a community started toward annual, systematic action to reduce their risks from brush, grass and forest fires.
They are rightly proud when they achieve national recognition for their efforts.
6. Publicity The national Firewise program provides communities with metal signs, a plaque and other materials that can be presented publicly to honor their status as a Firewise Communities/USA recognition site. These recognition ceremonies are great ways to shine the spotlight on community efforts and to reach large numbers of people with 2. Learning About Wildfire As people go through the Firewise process, they information about wildfire safety. learn about wildfire risks in the community 7. Access to Funding and Assistance and the simple things they can do to reduce Preference is sometimes given to Firewise them. They connect with experts – local fire Communities/USA sites over other candidates fighters, state forestry professionals, and when allocations of grant money are made for national researchers – to continue to learn wildfire safety or fuel mitigation. The reason is about fire and find resources to accomplish that there are invariably more requests than Firewise actions. available funds when grants are available through state or federal agencies. If requests are 3. Peace of Mind equally worthy, some officials tend to have People who work with experts to learn about more confidence in communities that have wildfire and take action start to see results demonstrated the foresight of becoming a quickly. Knowing that they are using the best information available and actually taking steps recognized Firewise Communities/USA site. to reduce the risk of damage from fire helps Firewise Communities/USA Activity in people start to feel safer in their environment and in their homes. Having a plan for what to Plumas County Three communities in Plumas County have do in the event of a fire helps people become Firewise Communities/USA recognition; Lake calmer and more prepared to act quickly. Almanor West, Gold Mountain, and The Graeagle Fire Protection District. Lake 4. Community-Building As neighbors get together to do Firewise work, Almanor Country Club is currently seeking certification. often meeting one another for the first time, they build a stronger bond with each other. How to become a Firewise Community Firewise activity can help rally people to a For additional information on how your common cause for the good of the community can become one, contact your neighborhood. This strengthening of County Fire Safe Council, CAL FIRE or community ties can benefit residents in many Firewise Communities/USA. Go to ways, and is especially helpful during an www.firewise.org, or www.plumasfiresafe.org emergency. for additional information. 5. Citizen Pride While Firewise work can be fun, it isn’t always easy. Neighbors work very hard in Firewise communities to remove brush and debris, clean up common areas, and dispose of green waste.
Preparing for Evacuation
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Living With Fire • Page 9
A First Person Perspective
The 2012 Chips Fire made the matter of emergency evacuation an up close and personal experience for a number of Plumas County residents. Evacuation preparation is no longer just a vague concept that applies to other people in other places. It’s something that any of us can face during any given year, and after facing it with the Chips Fire, there may be some value in sharing a few lessons learned.
Lesson #1: Start early — WAY early!
If you wait until the emergency arrives to put together an evacuation checklist or prepare your home, you are too late. These actions should be done when things are calm and you have plenty of time to thoughtfully address the need. We’ve had a basic evacuation checklist in the drawer for over a dozen years. It gets updated periodically to reflect changes in our situation and then goes back into the drawer for use if needed. Similarly, we strive to constantly maintain defensible space around the house, attempting to achieve a high level of ember resistance and fire tolerance. Frankly, it doesn’t take a roaring wildland fire to pose an ember threat to our residences; all that is required is a few glowing embers from a nearby structure fire or a debris burn.
Lesson #2: Make it ultra-clean when fire approaches.
Most of us have combustible materials on our decks or right next to our homes. Things like cloth umbrellas, fiber door mats, gas cans for power tools, propane bottles for barbeques, decorative flags or hangings, etc. It’s also pretty common to have conifer needles gradually accumulate on the surface right next to structures, and sometimes we’ll find that we’ve ignored that dead grass or vegetation next to or underneath structures. These are all ignition sources. The vegetation should be cleaned up and the needles raked away from structures on a regular basis. The other items can be left in place until a fire is approaching, at which point they need to be relocated. Try to remove every potential item that wind-blown embers could ignite.
Lesson #3: Reduce ember penetration opportunities.
The word “ember” can include anything from branch-size firebrands down to very small glowing
particles. The smaller ones can blow inside homes through open windows, open garage doors or poorly screened vent openings. Keep your doors and windows closed when fire approaches (including the doors and windows of vehicles parked outside). Make sure that your crawl space and attic vents are properly screened at all times. When faced with an inbound fire, consider using vent blocks or aluminum foil to completely cover the vent openings even if they are screened.
Lesson #4: Learn the evacuation jargon.
If you’ve never been through this before, the very word “evacuation” can cause a state of panic. However, there are several stages of the process that usually apply — unless the emergency is moving very rapidly. Typically, the first stage is an “Advisement”; this is when the Plumas County Sheriff’s Office lets people know that their area is in the path of a problem and that an evacuation notice could be declared on very short notice. Advisement is basically a “get ready” notification. The next level is a “Voluntary Evacuation” notice. This means that it is highly recommended that you leave because the threat is now fairly close. During a Voluntary Evacuation residents of the affected area can come and go (relocating possessions, for example), but nonresidents will not be allowed into the area. The final level is a “Mandatory Evacuation.” At this point, the threat is very near and the Sheriff wants everybody out so that emergency responders can concentrate on dealing with the threat without having to worry about residents. Legally, you cannot be removed from your residence, but if you choose to stay during a Mandatory Evacuation you are strictly on your own. If you leave, you will not be allowed to return until after the evacuation is lifted.
Lesson #5: Assemble your evacuation stuff early.
If it appears that an Advisement notice might be issued for your area, start assembling the items on your evacuation list in one place in your home (the guest bedroom, for example). Gather things up and get them packaged so that it will be easy to load them in vehicles if the time comes to depart. While you are at it, make sure that you’ve got a destination in mind if you have to leave, such as a relative or friend outside the danger zone.
Lesson #6: Prepare the yard for a fight.
After you’ve cleaned up the deck and yard, there is one final outdoor preparation step you should take. Give yourself and firefighters an advantage by assembling some important tools around the house. Hook up your garden hoses to the faucets and lay the hoses out in the yard where they can be quickly used to put out possible embers. If you have some empty buckets, fill them with water and place them around the exterior or on the deck. A ladder propped up against the house would assist firefighters needing to get onto your roof to extinguish a fire. Likewise, if you have a heavy hoe, rake or shovel, leave them propped against the exterior for a quick grab. Remember that you may be the one actually using these items to cope with an ember shower, so be sure that you have long sleeved, fire resistant clothing available along with heavy boots, a protective hat, gloves and some eye protection. Now for the anti-climax. During the Chips Fire we never got beyond the Advisement stage. We were ready, with one vehicle packed with irreplaceable items and a safe location identified for it. But thankfully we never received an Evacuation notice. Our plan, if a Voluntary Evacuation notice was issued, was to move the one loaded vehicle to its safe location and then return home. We would have our dogs and the final few things ready to move if the situation deteriorated. And if we evacuated we had to be mentally prepared for the possibility that there wouldn’t be anything left when we returned. Happily, it didn’t come to that. The Chips Fire was stopped by some extraordinary actions on the part of the firefighting team before that next stage was reached. So we unpacked. Each spring we’re out raking up needles and twigs again, disposing of the litter that arrived over the winter and preparing for another fire season. We’ve also gotten into the habit of pulling out the evacuation checklist to see if anything needs revising. These aren’t large tasks, but they are important. Dale Knutsen Former Chair, Almanor Basin Fire Safe Council 28 March 2014
Page 10 • Living With Fire
Take responsibility for your home
Make your home a safe and inviting environment for firefighters to work. Property Access
Firefighters can find my house. My address is posted with reflective and contrasting 3-inch numbers at the road access.
A fire engine can drive to my house. The driveway and access roads are free of obstructions; at least 12 feet wide and with a 14-foot overhead clearance.
A fire engine can turn around on my property/street.
Vegetation Around My Home—Defensible Space
Dry grass, needles, leaves and brush are 30 feet away from structure(s).
My property has a 100-foot zone of reduced fuel continuity. Firewood is stacked away 30 feet from structure(s).
Trees around structure(s) have been cleared of ladder fuels and limbed up 10 feet. Fuel is reduced at least 100 feet from structure(s) or to the property line.
Tree limbs are at least 10 feet from chimney/ stovepipe.
Dry grass and brush is cleared 10 feet around and under the propane tank(s).
Evacuation advisories to be prepared for: The Plumas County Sheriff is responsible for all evacuation orders. You will be notified by fire personnel or Law Enforcement (Sheriff and CHP). Evacuation advisories may stay in effect for several days. After the threat is mitigated, access may be limited to residents with identification. Sheriff’s Evacuation Advisement: Residents are encouraged to make evacuation preparations. Sheriff’s Voluntary Evacuation: Residents are encouraged to leave the area. Roads will have a “Soft Closure” allowing only residents in to the area. General public will not be allowed. Sheriff’s Mandatory Evacuation: Residents are in imminent danger or the potential for imminent danger exists. Roads will have “Hard Closures.”
Highways may be closed with the only access for firefighter and Law Enforcement safety. Residents and the public will be prohibited from free access. Shelter in Place: Advises people to stay secure at their current location by remaining in place as evacuation will cause a higher potential for loss of life. Travel advisories if evacuated: • Drive with headlights on. • Be alert for downed power lines and emergency personnel. • Watch for rocks and other roadway hazards. • DO NOT PANIC. Evacuees may be advised of safe zones and relief centers by emergency personnel.
Evacuation “go” list. What will you take? Notice of evacuation doesn’t always give you time to gather needed essentials. Plan ahead and place them in one or more easy to carry containers, keep your “go” bag items in a location where you can easily grab them. Develop your own personalized list to meet your specific needs.
The following is a list of suggested items: • • • • • •
Cell phone and charger Laptop computer Two-way radios Internet passwords Driver’s licenses Extra set of car keys and house keys
• Prescription medications and medical history • Baby supplies (bottles, formula, baby food, diapers) • Medical supplies (hearing aids with extra batteries, glasses, contact lenses, syringes, cane) • Specialized needs for the disabled and elderly. Caregivers need to develop lists to meet the specific needs for these individuals. • Pet supplies (collar, leash, ID, food, medications, pet carrier, bowl) • Social Security cards/passport • Credit cards • House deed • Vehicle titles • Marriage license
• • • • • • • • • • • • • •
Birth Certificates Insurance policies Home inventory list/photos Health insurance cards Important personal computer information downloaded to disk Address book Flashlight Extra cash Valuable jewelry Photographs Home videos / DVDs Items with sentimental value One week’s worth of clothing Games and activities for children
© 2013 FireSafeHelp.com Contact www.FireSafeHelp.com to order an evacuation plan and map for your community
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Ember awareness checklist Wood Roof Siding Flowerboxes Replace wood shake and shingle roofs with Fill gaps in siding and trim materials with a Remove wooden flowerboxes from beneath fire-resistant types such as composition, good quality caulk and replace poor condiwindows if wildfire is threatening. metal and tile. tion building materials. Eaves Roof Openings Woodpiles Cover open eaves with sheathing, such as Plug openings in roof coverings, such as the Move firewood stacks and scrap lumber plywood or fiber-cement board. Use tongue open ends of barrel tiles, with non-compiles at least 30 feet from the house or other and groove joints or other intricate joint bustible materials. buildings. types and don’t use butt joints. Roof Debris Patio Furniture Flowerbeds Routinely remove plant debris, such as pine Place combustible patio furniture, such as Replace wood mulches with noncombustible needles, leaves, branches and bark, from lounges, tables and hammocks, inside the types and remove plant debris, including the roof. house or garage if wildfire is threatening. dried grass and flowers, dead leaves and Skylights Deck Boards dead branches from flowerbeds next to the Replace plastic skylights with types conReplace deck boards that are less than one house, other buildings and next to wooden structed of double-pane glass. One of the inch thick or that are in poor condition with fences. Replace ornamental junipers with panes should be tempered glass. Close sky- thicker, good condition boards. Use metal low-growing deciduous shrubs or flowers lights if wildfire is threatening. flashing between the deck and the house. under irrigation. Spark Arrester Deck Debris Vehicles Install an approved spark arrester on chim- Remove plant debris from the gaps between Close vehicle windows. Back into the garage neys. deck boards, the gap between the deck and and close the Windows house, and lying on top of the deck. garage door or park away from the house. Replace single-pane, non-tempered glass Porch and Deck Accessories Garage Door windows with multiple-pane, tempered-glass If wildfire is threatening, remove combustible Adjust garage doors to achieve as tight a fit types. Close all windows if wildfire is threat- materials from the porch and deck including as possible with the door frame. Consider ening. newspapers, wicker baskets, door mats, using trim around the garage door opening Vents pine cones and dried flower arrangements, to reduce the size of gap openings. Close Cover attic, eave and foundation vents with and place BBQ propane tanks indoors. the garage door if wildfire is threatening. 1/8-inch wire mesh or install new vent types Under the Deck Garbage Cans and Recycling Bins designed to prevent ember entry. If wildfire Remove plant debris, wood piles and other Use garbage cans covered with tight fitting is threatening, consider covering vent open- easily ignited materials from under decks. lids near the house or other buildings. Move ings with pre-cut plywood or aluminum foil Consider enclosing the open sides of the newspaper recycling bins indoors. folded several layers thick and stapled. deck with siding materials that are properly Wooden Fences Rain Gutters vented or 1/8-inch wire mesh to reduce Maintain wooden fences in good condition Keep rain gutters free of plant debris during maintenance and deter ember entry. Do not and create a noncombustible fence section fire season. Consider using rain gutter cov- use wooden lattice to enclose decks. or gate next to the house for at least five ers to reduce maintenance. feet. (Used with permission of University of Nevada Cooperative Extension from its publication, Be Ember Aware! FS-09-05
If a wildfire approaches, take these steps: Get your “go” bag and important documents and place these items in your vehicle. Park your vehicle facing outward; carry your vehicle keys with you. Locate your pets and livestock and keep them nearby. Place connected garden hoses and buckets full of water around the outside of the house. Remove all flammables such as firewood and lawn furniture from your deck. Move propane BBQ appliances away from structures; turn off propane tanks. Cover up. Wear long pants, long sleeve shirt, heavy shoes/boots, a cap and have a dry bandanna for a face cover or use goggles or glasses. Clothing which is wool or 100% cotton is best. Leave lights on inside and outside house. Leave windows and doors closed; turn air conditioning off. Place ladder outside for roof access.
If you become trapped by a quickly-approaching wildfire: While in a Vehicle:
Returning home after a wildfire:
Stay calm. Park your vehicle in an area clear of vegetation. Do not park on inside curves. Close all vehicle windows and vents. Cover yourself with a wool or cotton blanket or jacket. Lie on the vehicle’s floor. Alert officials by calling 911 from your cell phone.
Do not return to your home until fire officials determine it is safe. When you do return home: Be alert for downed power lines and other hazards. Check propane tanks, regulators and lines before turning the gas on. Check your residence carefully for hidden embers or smoldering fires.
While in Your Home:
Important considerations before a wildfire event:
Stay calm; keep your family together. Call 911 and alert authorities of your location. Fill sinks and tubs with cold water. Keep doors and windows closed, but unlocked. Stay inside your home.
• In the event of a wildfire evacuation, what is the meeting place for your family? • During a wildfire, where will you take your animals?
For more information, go to: www.PlumasFireSafe.org or www.ReadyForWildfire.org
Structure triage in a wildfire situation:
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Living With Fire • Page 11
What are the first things the firefighter looks at to determine if a home should be defended from an approaching wildfire, can we defend it, or will it probably survive without protection? Deciding which homes can be saved and which can’t is often a very rapid process. “Access, access, access…if I can’t see it, we can’t protect it,” said an experienced firefighter from Northern California. If safe ingress and egress is available into the structure, then – if time allows – a quick walkaround is conducted to determine if it is defensible. The walk-around takes several items into consideration including the building construction – roof type, siding, what will burn when fire embers land, surrounding buildings, combustible debris, hazards; and, especially defensible space — is there any and will it provide clearance so the firefighters can work safely? The majority of homes are burned because they have wood roofs and lack defensible space. Most
Little green gas cans
burn as a result of burning embers or firebrands which attack the house both before and after the fire front has passed.
When considering a structure’s susceptibility to a wildfire, firefighters look at the roof to see if it is made of combustible materials, such as untreated wood shakes or if it is non-combustible, such as metal, composition, or tile. They look for unscreened vents, large windows, and firewood stacked next to the house, that can be easy entry paths for heat and flying embers. Firefighters also consider the topography, water sources, current and expected fire behavior, available firefighting resources and, of course, the safety of their crews. Topographical features such as steep slopes or drainages and dangerous fuel types are part of the equation. Decks built out over slopes present an easy place for firebrands to become trapped and cause ignition. Firefighters look for decks and other extensions from the main structures that have been enclosed with fire-resistant materials.
Firefighters often refer to ornamental junipers as “little green gas cans.” “During a wildfire, embers can smolder undetected within and underneath ornamental juniper shrubs,” explains Ed Smith, natural resource specialist, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. “The junipers then ignite and burn intensely, often after firefighters have already left the property.” Smith says that planting junipers next to the house is never a good idea, and that they should be kept at least 30 feet away from the house. If you have junipers near your house, Smith recommends replacing them with low-growing deciduous shrubs, herbaceous flowers, rock mulches, or hard surfaces. Smith and colleague JoAnne Skelly, UNCE Carson City/Storey County extension educator, recently published, “Choosing the Right Plants for Northern Nevada’s High Fire Hazard Areas.” You can obtain a free copy of this guide containing good plant choices for high fire hazard areas at your local University of Nevada Cooperative Extension office. To learn more about protecting your home from the threat of wildfire, visit www.livingwithfire.info or contact Smith at University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, 775-782-9960 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Living With Fire is an interagency program coordinated by University of Nevada Cooperative Extension.
Photo courtesy University of Nevada Reno Cooperative Extension
Structure triage will quickly lead to a decision to defend or abandon a structure.
Every structure will fall into one of these three categories: Needs little or no attention: Construction and defensible space sufficient enough to allow the structure to survive on its own or with a little assistance. Needs protection but is savable: Constructed and maintained fire-safe with defensible space and where the firefighters are reasonably safe. Undefendable: The fire will destroy the structure no matter what is done and may place firefighters at great risk. Now is the time to contact your local fire authority and request a “pre-fire inspection.” Better now then when the fire is knocking at your door this summer. Excerpts from Wildfire Magazine at wildfiremag.com
Defensible Space... What's your excuse?
“I don’t have the time or money”: If you live in a high fire hazard area, creating defensible space needs to be a high priority use of your spare time. Many defensible space activities require little or no money to implement. For bigger, more expensive community tasks, consider forming a Local Community Fire Safe Council for assistance in acquiring grant funds. “It’s wrong to cut trees”: In many areas, pines, cedars and firs occur in unnaturally dense stands. Thinning of these thick stands of trees not only reduces the fire threat, but often promotes forest health.
“It won’t look good”: There is a misconception that defensible space has to be ugly and barren to be effective. Through proper planning, a homeowner can have both an attractive landscape and an effective defensible space. “It’s not my responsibility”: The manner in which a house is built, characteristics of the adjacent vegetation, and maintenance often determine survivability during wildfire. The homeowner, not the firefighter, is usually responsible for these factors. “I don’t have an easy way to dispose of the unwanted vegetation”: Check to see if there is a free community
cleanup day in your area, ask your fire department if they have a fuels reduction chipping program, or join several other neighbors and rent a chipper and trailer for a weekend.
“It’s not going to happen to me”: If you live near areas of dense brush and trees (extensive surface and ladder fuels), it is only a matter of time before these areas burn. “It’s against the law to remove vegetation”: If there are regulations that prohibit the removal of vegetation necessary to create defensible space, contact your local fire official and ask for help in resolving the conflict.
“I’ve got insurance”: While insurance can rebuild a house, it cannot recreate a home. Photo albums, heirlooms, and other memorabilia are often irreplaceable. “I don’t know what to do”: For more information about creating defensible space, go to www.livingwithfire.info or contact your local firefighting agency or University of California Cooperative Extension office. Courtesy of Ed Smith, University of Nevada Cooperative Education
Six Steps to Creating an Effective Defensible Space
Page 12 • Living With Fire
The term “defensible space” refers to the area between a house and an oncoming wildfire where the vegetation has been managed to reduce the wildfire threat and allow firefighters to safely defend the house. In the event that firefighters are not available, defensible space also improves the likelihood of a home surviving without assistance.
Determine the two zones of effective defensible space: California Law (PRC 4291) requires 100 feet of defensible space and is broken into two zones:
1. Lean, Clean and Green Area:
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
DEFENSIBLE SPACE ZONES
Create a separation between trees and shrubs:
ZONE 2 100 feet
ZONE 1 NEIGHBORING PROPERTY
Defensible space distance is measured from the base of the house, extending outward.
An area 30 feet immediately surrounding your home where all flammable vegetation and any dead or dying plants should be removed. You may keep single trees Remove dead vegetation: or other vegetation that are trimmed of all dead foliage and Within the recommended Defensible Space Zone, remove: are well pruned and maintained. • Dead and dying trees or recently fallen trees 2. Reduced Fuel Area: • Dead native and ornamental shrubs An area from 30 feet to 100 feet from your • Dead branches home, or to your property line (whichever is less). You • Dried grass, weeds, and flowers should remove all dead vegetation • Dead leaves, needles, and twigs that are and decrease flammable brush and small still attached to plants, draped on live trees so fire cannot spread through plants, on the roof or in rain gutters or on the vegetation or act as a fire ladder introducing ground fire to tree crowns • Remove surface litter to 3 inches or less. Surface litter consists of fallen leaves, needles, twigs, bark, cones, small branches etc. • Logs and stumps should be removed unless Flat to Moderately Very Steep gently Steep +40% they are embedded in the soil, remove sloping 21-40% nearby vegetation if an embedded log is left. 0-20% • Standing trees (snags) may be kept for 2 times 4 times 6 times wildlife providing they don’t exceed one per the height the height the height Shrubs acre or if it were to fall, would not reach of shrub of shrub of shrub buildings/structures or land on roadways or 10 feet 20 Feet 30 Feet Trees driveways.
Within the Defensible Space Zone, native trees and shrubs, such as Jeffrey pine, white fir and manzanita should not occur in a dense stand. Dense stands of trees and shrubs pose a signficant wildfire threat. Thin dense tree and shrub stands to create more space between them. This will reduce fire intensity, rate of fire spread and can create an acceptable working environment for firefighters.
Sagebrush, other Shrubs, Pinyon and Juniper:
On flat to gently sloping terrain, individual shrubs or small clumps of shrubs within the Defensible Space Zone should be separated from one another by at least twice the height of the average shrub. For homes located on steeper slopes, the separation distance should be greater. For example, if the typical shrub height is 2 feet, then there should be a separation between shrub branches of at least 4 feet. Remove shrubs or prune to reduce their height and/or diameter. In most instances, removing big sagebrush is the preferred approach. It is a very flammable plant, is easily removed, does not resprout, and is typically abundant. Grasses should not exceed four inches in height unless special circumstances exist.
Pine and White Fir:
On flat to gently sloping terrain, pine and white fir should be thinned to provide an average separation between canopies of at least 10 feet on flat to gently sloping land. For homes located on steeper slopes, the separation distance should be greater, see table. When selecting trees for removal, consider cutting unhealthy, damaged, or weak trees.
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Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Living With Fire • Page 13
MINIMUM VERTICAL CLEARANCE
Create a separation between tree branches and lower growing plants:
If trees are present within the Defensible Space Zone, there should be a separation between the lower growing vegetation and the lowest tree branches. Vegetation that can carry a fire burning in low growing plants to taller plants is called “ladder fuel.” The recommended separation for ladder fuels is three times the height of the lower vegetation layer. Prune the lower tree branches, shorten the height of shrubs, or remove lower plants. Do not, however, remove more than one-third of the total tree branches. When there is no understory vegetation present, remove lower tree branches to a height of at least 2 feet above ground. During a fire, this will help prevent burning needles and twigs that are lying on the ground from igniting the tree.
Defensible space within a continuous tree canopy:
If keeping a larger stand of trees with continuous tree canopy: • Prune lower branches of trees to a height of six to 15 feet from the top of the vegetation occurring below (or lower 1/3 of branches for small trees). Properties with greater fire potential (steep slopes) will require pruning heights in the upper end of this range. • Remove all ground fuels greater than four inches in height. Single specimens of trees or other vegetation may be kept if they are wellspaced, well-pruned and create an overall condition that avoids the spread of fire to other vegetation or to structures.
WITHOUT VERTICAL CLEARANCE, FIRE CLIMBS FROM GROUND TO TREES LIKE A LADDER 3 x HEIGHT OF SHRUB = MINIMUM VERTICAL CLEARANCE 6 FOOT MINIMUM CLEARANCE
Create a Lean, Clean, and Green Area extending at least 30 feet from the house:
Mild to moderate slope (20% to 40% slope) Four times (4x) the height of the shrub (Two shrubs 2 ft. high should be spaced 8 ft apart)
Moderate to steep slope (greater than 40% slope) Six times (6x) the height of the shrub (Two shrubs 2 ft. high should be spaced 12 ft. apart)
From edge of one tree canapy to edge of the next Flat to mild slope (0% to 20% slope) 10 feet
Mild to moderate slope (20% to 40% slope)
Moderate to steep slope (greater than 40% slope)
Maintain the Defensible Space Zone:
Maintaining a defensible space is an ongoing activity. Plants grow back and flammable vegetation needs to be routinely removed and disposed of properly. Before each fire season, reevaluate your property using the previous five steps and implement the necessary defensible space recommendations.
Lean, Clean, and Green Area Tips
SHRUBS Flat to mild slope (0% to 20% slope) Two times (2x) the height of the shrub (Two shrubs 2 ft. high should be spaced 4 ft. apart) 4 feet
There are two goals for the Lean, Clean, and Green Area. The first goal is to eliminate easily ignitable fuels, or “kindling,” near the house. This will help prevent embers from starting a fire in your yard. The second goal is to keep fire intensity low if it does ignite near the house. By proper management of the fuels near the house, a fire would not be able to generate enough heat to ignite the home. For most homeowners, the Lean, Clean, and Green Area is also the residential landscape. This area often • Remove most or all flammable wildland plants, including has irrigation, is planted with ornamental vegetation, sagebrush, bitterbrush, rabbitbrush, cheatgrass, and and is regularly maintained. manzanita. If you wish to retain a few of these as
Minimum Horizontal Clearance From edge of one shrub to the edge of the next
specimen plants, make sure they are free of dead wood and leaves, pruned to reduce the amount of fuel, and separated from adjacent brush fields. • Select less flammable plants for the home landscape. Some rules of thumb in selecting landscape plants for the Lean, Clean, and Green Area are... • Shorter plants, less than 2 feet tall, are better choices than taller plants. • Green, herbaceous plants, such as grass and nonwoody flowers, are better choices than shrubs and trees. • Deciduous shrubs and trees are better choices than evergreen types. • Avoid planting juniper, mugo pine and arborvitae. • Emphasize the use of hard surfaces and mulches. Hard surfaces include materials such as concrete, asphalt, and brick. Mulches include rock and wood types. Wood mulches should not be used within 3 feet of the house. • Clear all flammable vegetation from within 10 feet of the propane tank. • Remove tree limbs that are within 10 feet of the chimney, touching the house or deck, within 6 feet of the roof, or encroaching on power lines. • Create a noncombustible area at least 3 feet wide around the base of the house. Emphasize the use of irrigated herbaceous plants, such as lawn, ground covers, and flowers.
Page 14 • Living With Fire
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Wildland Fire Safety for Your Livestock and Pets You’ve taken steps to keep your family and home fire safe. Don’t forget your pets and livestock. With some advance planning you can increase their chances of surviving a wildland fire. Livestock • Clear defensible space around your barns, pastures and property just as you do your
home. PRC 4291 requires clearance around all structures on your property. • Plan ahead, know where you would evacuate the animals. Contact your local fairgrounds, stockyards, equestrian centers, friends etc. about their policies and ability to take livestock temporarily in an emergency. Have several evacuation routes in mind. If you don’t have your own truck and trailer, make arrangements with local companies or neighbors before disaster strikes. Make sure your neighbors have your contact numbers (cell phone, work, home, etc.). • Have vaccination/ medical records, registration papers and photographs of your animals (proof of ownership) and your Disaster Preparedness Kit. • If you must leave your animals, leave them in a preselected, cleared area. Leave enough hay for 48 to 72 hours. Do not rely on automatic watering systems. Power may be lost.
Do not wait until the last minute to start evacuating!
Livestock Disaster Preparedness Kit Hay, feed and water for three days Non-nylon leads and halters First aid items Wire cutters and a sharp knife Hoof pick Leg wraps Shovel Water buckets Plastic trash barrel with a lid Portable radio and extra batteries Flashlights
During a wildland fire, local animal rescue organizations work with law enforcement and fire departments to rescue as many animals as they can. In battling a wildfire, firefighters will do what they can but they are not responsible for evacuating your livestock. Firefighters may cut fences or open gates to free trapped animals.
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Living With Fire • Page 15
• Plan ahead. Know where you will take or leave your pets. In case you are not home when disaster strikes, arrange in advance for a neighbor to check on or transport your pets. Make sure your neighbors have your contact numbers (cell phone, work, home, etc.). In the event of evacuation pets may not be allowed inside human emergency shelters have an alternate prearranged location to take your animals. • Make sure your pets are always wearing properly fitted collars with personal identification, rabies and license tags. • Each animal should have its own pet carrier. Birds, rodents and reptiles should be transported in cages. Cover cages with a light sheet or cloth to minimize their fear. • Store vaccination/medical records, veterinary contact information, proof of ownership, a current photo, and a Disaster Preparedness Kit in one location.
Pet Disaster Preparedness Kit Pet carrier for each pet Two week supply of food and water Non-spill food and water bowls Pet first-aid kit Medications and dosing instructions Cat litter box and litter Plastic bags for waste disposal Paper towels Disinfectants Leashes/collars/harnesses Blankets Toys and treats Newspaper
If You Must Leave Your Pet If you must leave your pets, bring them indoors. Never leave pets chained outdoors! Use a room with no windows and adequate ventilation, such as a utility room, garage, bathroom, or other area that can be easily cleaned. Do not tie pets up! Leave only dry foods and fresh water in non-spill containers. If possible open a faucet to let water drip into a large container or partially fill a bathtub with water. www.fire.ca.gov
In 2004, PC FSC was recognized by the US Forest Service Chief with the Rural Community Assistance National Leadership Award for, “Outstanding accomplishments through their exceptional leadership, vision, and perseverance in working collaboratively to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire in Plumas County.”
Trees and Power Lines Planting Tip — Plant the “Right Tree in the Right Place.” Planting trees under power lines can pose electrical shock hazards and fire safety risks. To stay safe, keep the lights on and reduce the risk of fire, plant: • Medium and large trees 50 feet to the side of transmission lines, poles and towers. • Medium and large trees 30 feet to the side of distribution lines and poles. For more information visit pge.com/trees or for California tree selections visit www.selectree.calpoly.edu. To request a "Guide to Planting Small Trees Near Distribution Lines” call 1-800-743-5000, or email RightTreeRightPlace@pge.com. Specify: Northern CA, Central CA or Bay Area/Inland.
Page 16 • Living With Fire
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Frequently asked questions about defensible space WHAT IS DEFENSIBLE SPACE? Defensible space is the area between a house and an oncoming wildfire where the vegetation has been modified to reduce the wildfire threat and to provide an opportunity for firefighters to effectively defend the house. Sometimes, a defensible space is simply a homeowner’s properly maintained backyard.
WHAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN VEGETATION AND WILDFIRE THREAT? Many people do not view the plants growing on their property as a threat. But in terms of wildfire, the vegetation adjacent to their homes can have considerable influence upon the survivability of their houses. All vegetation, including plants native to the area and ornamental plants, is potential wildfire fuel. If vegetation is properly modified and maintained, a wildfire can be slowed, the length of flames shortened, and the amount of heat reduced, all of which assist fighters in defending the home against an oncoming wildfire. THE FIRE DEPARTMENT IS SUPPOSED TO PROTECT MY HOUSE, SO WHY BOTHER WITH DEFENSIBLE SPACE? Some individuals incorrectly assume that a fire engine will be parked in their driveway and firefighters will be actively defending their homes if a wildfire approaches. During a major wildfire, it is unlikely there will be enough firefighting resources available to defend every home. In these instances, firefighters will likely select homes they can most safely and effectively protect. Even with adequate resources, some wildfires may be so intense that there may be little firefighters can do to prevent a house from burning. The key is to reduce fire intensity as wildfire nears the house. This can be accomplished by reducing the amount of flammable vegetation surrounding a home. Consequently, the most important person in protecting a house from wildfire is not a firefighter, but the property owner. And it is the action taken by the owner before the wildfire occurs (such as proper landscaping) that is most critical.
HOW BIG IS AN EFFECTIVE DEFENSIBLE SPACE? Defensible space size is not the same for every home, but varies by slope and type of wildland vegetation growing near the house. See “Step One” on page 12.
IS YOUR HOME READY?
DOES DEFENSIBLE SPACE MAKE A DIFFERENCE? Yes. Investigations of homes threatened by wildfire indicate that those with an effective defensible space are much more likely to survive a wildfire. Furthermore, homes with both an effective defensible space and a nonflammable roof (composition shingles, tile, metal, etc.) are many times more likely to survive a wildfire. Defensible space also allows firefighters to effectively and safely defend your home.
ZONE 2 100 feet
ZONE 1 NEIGHBORING PROPERTY
Defensible Space Zone DOES DEFENSIBLE SPACE REQUIRE A LOT OF BARE GROUND IN MY LANDSCAPE? No. Unfortunately, many people have this misconception. While bare ground is certainly effective in reducing the wildfire threat, it is unnecessary and unacceptable due to appearance, soil erosion, and other reasons. Many homes have attractive, well-vegetated landscapes that also serve as effective defensible space.
DOES HAVING A DEFENSIBLE SPACE GUARANTEE MY HOUSE WILL SURVIVE A WILDFIRE? No. Under extreme conditions, almost any house can burn. However, having a defensible space will significantly improve the odds of your home surviving a wildfire. WHY DOESN’T EVERYONE LIVING IN A HIGH FIRE HAZARD AREA CREATE A DEFENSIBLE SPACE? The specific reasons for not creating a defensible space are varied. Presented on page 11 are responses to common excuses for not creating defensible space.
DOES CREATING A DEFENSIBLE SPACE REQUIRE ANY SPECIAL SKILLS OR EQUIPMENT? No. For the most part, creating a defensible space employs routine gardening and landscape maintenance practices, such as pruning, mowing, weeding, plant removal, appropriate plant selection, and irrigation. Equipment needed includes common tools such as a chain saw, a pruning saw, pruning shears, loppers, a weed-eater, a shovel, and a rake. A chipper, compost bin, or large rented trash dumpster may be useful in disposing of unwanted plant material.
DO YOU LOVE YOUR HOUSE?
DO YOU LOVE THE FOREST?
Call William: 530-588-6200
Want to Burn Your Yard Debris?
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Living With Fire • Page 17
Residents in Plumas County are faced with a yard waste challenge: how do we dispose of our green waste? Unfortunately, our options for yard waste disposal are very limited at this time. As a result, we must burn yard debris during winter or early spring. Since 2014 was a record dry winter, we must take extreme caution while burning. Escaped debris burns are the number one cause of human caused fires on the Plumas National Forest. Escaped debris burns are often the result of a pile left unattended or burning when windy. Debris burning can be a very effective means of reducing fire hazards around your home and property if handled properly and safely. It is important to remember that the person doing the burning is financially responsible for suppression costs and damages if the debris burn escapes. Before you light a burn pile remember that burning on non-burn days, or out of approved burn hours may result in an emergency fire dispatch to your home. If this happens you may be cited and charged for the personnel and equipment time. Burning Permits are required beginning May 1st through June 30th. Permits may be suspended early due to unusually high fire danger. A burn ban is in effect from July 1st through October yearly regardless of the weather. Note: For air quality reasons, burning is banned completely at any time throughout the year in the downtown Quincy and East Quincy
Escaped Debris Burns are the #1 cause of human-caused fires on the Plumas NF.
portions of the American Valley.
Please follow these guidelines when planning a debris burn on your property: Green or wet vegetation should be dried 3-6 weeks before burning to reduce your smoke impact on the community. Fire Prevention specialists recommend covering your burn piles with plastic or similar material in the fall before the rain to allow for easy ignition of the piles during very wet weather. Keep pile size at 4 feet in diameter or less. If burn piles are larger than 4’ x 4’, a special permit is needed and the piles must be inspected by a District Fire Prevention Officer. Do not burn plywood, particle board, painted wood, sheetrock, insulation, plastics, tires. Make sure that the area within 10 feet of outer edge of pile is free and clear of any vegetation on the ground. Construct your control lines down to mineral soil. An adult must be in attendance with a shovel until the fire is dead out. A water supply is required at the burning site, have plenty of hoses laid and ready before you light your pile. Don’t burn when windy. Have in possession a valid burning permit. Make sure your fire is out! Check the burn area before leaving it, even after you think it is dead out. Burn only on days approved by the Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District. Call any of the following numbers to find out if it is a permissive burn day: Portola: 832-4528 Greenville: 284-6520 Quincy: 283-3602 Chester: 258-2588 Eastern Sierra County: 994-3561 Western Sierra County: 289-3662
To obtain a burning permit or have your questions answered regarding residential burning, please contact or visit a local Forest Service or Cal Fire Office:
Mt. Hough Ranger District Office – 39696 State Highway 70, Quincy Ca. 283-0555 Greenville Work Center – 122 Hot Springs Road Greenville, Ca. 284-7126 Beckwourth Ranger District Office – Mohawk Road, Blairsden Ca. 836-2575 Almanor Ranger District Office – Highway 36 Chester, CA. 258-2141 Sierraville Ranger District Office – Highway89, Sierraville, Ca. 994-3401 Almanor Ranger District Office – Highway 36 Chester, CA. 258-2141 Cal Fire – Westwood Fire Station – 3rd and Greenwood, Westwood, Ca. 256-3203 Cal Fire – Truckee Fire Station – Truckee Tahoe Airport Rd., Truckee Ca. 582-9471 The National Forests issue burn permits under an agreement with Cal-Fire. Your Burn Permit will further explain the latest regulations and recommendations.
Butterfly Valley Forestry can HELP YOU: • Make your property a safe place for firefighters • Eliminate ladder fuels by thinning, to be while defending your house from wildfire piling, burning. • Create forest fire balance, so only managable • Promote old growth forest and save low-intensity fires burn. your big trees from fire. • Remove surface fuels by Call William: 530-588-6200 leafblowing/needle raking.
Partnerships in action:
Page 18 • Living With Fire
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
USFS, Feather River Land Trust, Plumas Audubon Society, Feather River Resource Conservation District: Numerous groups are working together to reduce the threat of catastrophic fire in the Genesee Valley:
Recently the USFS and the Feather River Land Trust completed the Genesee Wildland/Urban Interface (WUI) Collaborative Underburn Project. This effort consisted of hand thinning small diameter conifers, piling, clearing ground fuels from the base of oaks and large diameter conifers, building fire line around wooden structures, and pile and under burning operations. The burning effectively reduced understory vegetation, ladder fuels, and excess dead-and-down fuels on approximately 38.5 acres of private land and 20.0 acres of public land in the Genesee Wildland Urban Interface. Thinning, clearing, and piling on Feather River Land Trust’s Heart K Ranch was performed by the Greenville Rancheria Wildland Fire Crew. Burning operations on public and private lands Photo courtesy of Darrel Jury – Plumas Audubon Society
La Port Road and the PC FSC Residents along La Port Road have been the beneficiaries of a number of Hazardous Fuel Reduction (HFR) projects thanks to their efforts and those of PC FSCduring the past five years. PC FSC has facilitated the treatment of nearly 300 acres of private forest lands by seeking grant funds from a number of different funding sources and retained contractors to accomplish prescribed treatments. HFR was focused on the removal and thinning of excessive vegetation for surface and ladder fuels. Treatments included the commercial removal of biomass (woodchips) and saw logs, mastication of fuels, and hand piling and burning. Those projects that generated merchantable timber products helped to fund the project along with landowner’s cash in-kind payments. The La Port Road Projects have been funded by programs and grants from CAL FIRE, the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, and the Plumas NF by recommendation of the Plumas County Resource Advisory Committee. Not only do these projects reduce the threat of large fires destroying private properties, damaging water quality, reducing forest productivity and wildlife habitat, they also have created jobs for many local Plumas County business and residents. PC FSC retained a local registered professional forester and a number of Licenced Timber Operators who are residents of Plumas County.
were conducted by the US Forest Service, Mt. Hough Ranger District, and the Greenville Rancheria Wildland Fire Crew.
The Feather River Resource Conservation District is managing a grant that is thinning 100 acres of over stocked forest on the Heart K Ranch which is owned by the Feather River Land Trust. The Greenville Rancheria Wildland Fire Crew has treated approximately 70 acres and they will be treating the remaining acres during the winter of 2014-2015. Plumas Audobon Society, Feather River Land Trust and Maidu Summit Consortium are bringing together Native American knowledge and contemporary science to restore habitat on land sacred to Mountain Maidu, an underrepresented community. This project includes the re-introduction of fire as a tool for managing the forest.
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Plumas County Sheriff ’s Office Reverse 911 Emergency Notification System Plumas County has instituted a new rapid emergency notification service called CodeRED®. The new system will distribute emergency messages via telephone to targeted areas or the entire county at a rate of 1,000 calls per minute. CodeRED® employs a one-of-a-kind Internet mapping capability for geographic targeting of calls, coupled with a high speed telephone calling system capable of delivering customized prerecorded emergency messages directly to homes and businesses, live individuals and answering machines. By registering, you’ll be added to the emergency call list. This service can be used in case of fires, chemical spills, evacuations, lock downs, downed power lines, lost individuals, natural disasters, abductions, water system problems, bomb threats, or other emergencies. Calls can be geographically targeted for localized messaging. If widespread, the entire community could be called within 20 to 30 minutes. The system also reports who did not get a call so that they may be contacted by other means. Plumas County residents are welcome and encouraged to enter their contact information for home, business, and mobile phones so they may be contacted by the system in the event of an emergency. It is important for city residents and businesses customers to register, especially if they use unlisted numbers, cell phones, or VOIP. Those who do not register their address and phone number may not be notified with CodeRED in the case of an emergency. Registration is confidential, free, and easy. Important Facts: • Most landline phones have been entered into the system from data received from AT&T of Frontier Communications. • Registering to receive emergency messages on a mobile device, or making sure your land line phone is associated with the correct address is simple and takes only minutes. • By signing up for these alerts, you will only receive messages from the Plumas County Sheriff ’s Office in the event of emergencies unless you opt in to general notifications. • You will receive a message related to the address that was entered upon registration, no matter where you are at the time of the alert. • Individuals are responsible for making changes to their registration information or updating the address you have registered. The Sheriff ’s Office does not manage this information. • Upon receipt of an emergency message, DO NOT call 911 or the Sheriff ’s Dispatcher for information or updates related to the notification. The exceptions would be if you have a true emergency or can relay critical information. Examples: You find a “missing child” or witness something related to the message. You are experiencing an unrelated emergency and need assistance.
To sign up for Code Red (Plumas County Sheriff ’s Office’s Reverse 911 system) 1. Go to the Plumas County web site at www.countyofplumas.com. 2. First click “Departments” tab, then go to “Sheriff/ Coroner” tab. 3. From there you will see the Code Red Alert button. Follow these simple steps and complete the form on the Code Red web site and you are done.
Living With Fire • Page 19
Meadow Valley Multi-Agency Wildland Fire Exercise Plumas County Office of Emergency Services, Plumas National Forest and the Meadow Valley Volunteer Fire Department, along with many others, conducted a wildland fire training exercise in Meadow Valley, CA on Sunday, June 1, 2014. Although there was no actual fire, residents experienced emergency vehicles and operations throughout the community, particularly between 11:00 am - 4:00 pm. The objectives of this training exercise were to test and improve the participating agencies notification, response, coordination and communication systems used during an incident in addition to expanding participant’s knowledge and use of the Incident Command System. Other objectives include increasing community awareness about the Firewise communities program, how to create defensible space around homes and how to be prepared for an evacuation. Background: The five hour training exercise was based on a scenario where a fire started west of Silver Creek Road in Meadow Valley. Fire suppression resources included local volunteer fire departments, USDA Forest Service and CAL FIRE. The Plumas County Sheriff’s Department, California Highway Patrol and Plumas County Search and Rescue simulated an evacuation. The American Red Cross, Plumas County Social Services, Public Health and all Plumas County hospitals simulated emergency shelter operations at the Plumas-Sierra County Fairgrounds. The operations included an animal shelter component simulated by Plumas County Agriculture Department. Other cooperators included CA Office of Emergency Services, PG&E, Soper Wheeler, Plumas Amateur Radio Club and private landowners among others. Questions may be directed to Lori Pini, Health Education Coordinator Plumas County Public Health/Office of Emergency Services (530) 2836988 or email@example.com.
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Living With Fire • Page 20
What is the Plumas County Fire Safe Council (PC FSC) PC FSC was organized in 1998, became a non-profit corporation in 2002, and has since worked very hard to provide community support for wildfire mitigation countywide.
PC FSC Mission Statement: “To reduce the loss of natural and human-made resources caused by wildfire through Firewise community programs and pre-fire activities.” PC FSC Board Members
Mike De Lasaux, Chair Chuck Bowman, Vice Chair Mike Callaghan, Sect./Treasurer Jim Hamblin Deb Bumpus Shane Vargas Jerry Sipe
PC FSC PLANS
(These plans available on the website www.plumasfiresafe.org)
PC FSC has developed a number of plans to assist homeowners and communities to better understand the risks, mitigation measures and if necessary preparations for evacuations.
Serving the area for over 20 years!
Now offers hazardous tree and brush removal services for fire prevention at your home or business.
• Tree trimming and removal • Brush removal • Brush and tree chipping • Hazardous limbs and deadwood removal • Snow Removal Licensed and insured • Free Estimates
TIps for homeowners living in a fire prone forest environment.