Homeowners Play an Important Role in Wildland Fire Prevention

fire prevention


As civilization sprawls further into woodland habitats, the threat of fire rises—and fire prevention plays a significant role for homeowners.

In nature, fire plays a central role in managing wilderness health, clearing out brush and ground cover that would otherwise choke essential forest trees. The burned debris it leaves behind enriches the soil. It stimulates the growth of many plants, especially those which require fire to regenerate and even germinate. Fire rejuvenates wilderness areas.

Unfortunately for us, it also destroys homes, businesses and lives. With the number of wildfires increasing rapidly, and more people living in wildland-urban interface (WUI) areas, it’s imperative that homeowners do their part in preventing wildfire. The efforts you take to protect your home may save lives.

After more than 50 years, Smokey Bear’s words ring true: Only you can prevent forest fires. Human preparedness efforts are still our best methods for decreasing the likelihood of unwanted and unplanned outdoor fires, but it’s not just about prevention. When fire does strike, human preparedness plays a major role in whether a wildfire will grow out of control or not—and whether firefighters will be able to defeat it.

Protecting your property

If you’re not fighting on the front lines, you can still offer enormous assistance by taking practical measures to make your property less flammable, and easier to defend in the face of a wildfire.

Follow the safety precautions below, so your home doesn’t contribute to a life-threatening fire:

1.Use your power equipment wisely

Stray sparks from your lawn mower and power equipment can ignite fire. Avoid mowing the lawn and using other power equipment on hot, dry days—especially during drought conditions.

If you must operate power equipment regardless of the weather, ensure your tools are equipped with spark arresters. Manufacturers of portable, gasoline-powered equipment are legally obligated to equip such appliances with spark arresters, which capture hot particles exhausted through the internal combustion process.

2. Keep metals from dragging on the ground

Chains or other metal pieces dragging from vehicles such as trucks, cars, trailers, and tractors can throw sparks, which may ignite flames on dry ground cover. Keep tools, debris, and other items from hanging out of your vehicles. Make sure tow chains and other vehicle parts do not drag along the ground.

3. Water, mow and trim your yard regularly

Move flammable debris (e.g. stacks of wood, dry brush) away from your yard to establish a no-burn zone around the house. Dead plants and overgrowth make for perfect kindling, so trim and remove these as often as possible. Water your property to avoid dry, dead grass; a well-hydrated lawn hinders fire. Install wire mesh over openings such as vents and eaves, to prevent sparks and embers from entering your house in the case of a wildfire.

Every person makes an impact on fire safety

You may not live the dangerous and demanding life of a wildland firefighter, charging straight into the flames, but that doesn’t mean you can’t contribute to saving lives. Your cautious actions and the care you give to your property could not only save your family, but could also protect firefighters’ lives if they find themselves fighting a fire near your residence.


Shannan Mills is the division manager for the National Fire Fighter Wildland Corp. Mills focuses on helping the company serve the wildland firefighters who protect lands and homes.

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