Seven important features of a Firewise home
The Firewise Communities Program provides helpful checklists for Firewise landscaping and construction. Firewise also offers useful tips to prepare your home and protect your family and pets from wildfire.
March 20, 2012 - Author: Elaine M. Bush, Michigan State University Extension
With the early arrival of unseasonably warm weather this spring, the risk of wildfire is extremely high in many Michigan counties. Homeowners can reduce their risk of damage or total destruction by taking the following steps to ensure their homes have the seven features recommended by the Firewise Communities Program.
- A Home Ignition Zone begins with at least 30 feet of space immediately around the home and extending out as far as 100 to 200 feet depending on the characteristics of the surrounding forest or grasslands. Thin or space vegetation, remove dead leaves and needles, prune shrubs and tree branches to reduce or eliminate ignition hazards.
- Lean, Clean and Green Landscaping create survivable space by pruning large trees so that the lowest branches are at least six to 10 feet high, removing flammable plants that contain resins, oils, and waxes that burn readily, and keeping lawns and plants well-watered.
- Fire-Resistant Roof Construction can be ensured by using Class-A asphalt shingles, metal, slate or clay tile, concrete products and fire-resistant subroof., Keep roof, gutter, and eaves clear of debris and make a periodic inspection looking for deterioration. Box in eaves and make sure under-eave and soffit vents are as close as possible to the roofline.
- Include Fire-Resistant Attachments on any structure connected to your home, such as decks, porches, or fences. If these items attached to a home are not fire-resistant, then the home as a whole is vulnerable to ignition.
- Fire-Resistant wall materials that resist heat and flames include brick, cement, plaster, stucco, and concrete masonry. Tempered and double-pane glass windows can make a home more resistant to wildfire heat and flames.
- The time to develop a Disaster Plan for any emergency is prior to the event. Take time to discuss with your family what actions you will take. Post emergency telephone numbers in a visible place. Leave before it is too late. Decide where you will go and how you will get there. Have tools available (shovel, rake, axe, handsaw, or chain saw). Maintain an emergency water source. Have a plan for your pets. Practice family fire drills.
- Emergency Access identify your home and neighborhood with legible and clearly marked street names and numbers. Include a driveway that is at least 12 feet wide with a vertical clearance of 15 feet and a slope of less than 5 percent to provide access to emergency vehicles.
Firewise has a collection of resource materials for homeowners available online. Two very helpful bulletins can be downloaded as a pdf or printed while at the website are “Be Firewise Around Your Home” and “Firewise Landscape/Construction Guide.”