Reduce wildfire risk | Living the Country Life

Reduce wildfire risk

A bit of caution and common sense can go a long way towards keeping your family safe
Photo courtesy of Michigan State University

I can’t imagine the horror of the pioneers years ago when they saw a raging wildfire coming at them and there was nothing they could do.  Fires can start by Mother Nature, or just by our own dumb nature.  

Thank goodness for fire departments, because most of us can’t afford our own fire suppression equipment. But there are ways to help prevent a fire from spreading. Dennis Thompson is an ecologist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service. He says a first line of defense is to make firebreaks.

"A firebreak can take several forms. It could actually be a planting of some sort that would remain green during the fire season. It could be a disked line, it could be a plowed firebreak or the use of grazing animals to create an area that would not be able to carry the fire," says Thompson. "So, it could be built into a landscape as part of someone’s landscaping."

Have a local expert come out and help you plan what kind of firebreak would work for your area.

If you’re going to build a new home in the country, this is a good time to include fire risk reduction into the overall plans.

"First would be the construction, the type of materials that you would use. Topography – the location of where your home may be built or your structures may be built. The access, so that not only you can get in and out of your property but should you need emergency equipment to respond to a fire, that they have that access as well."

If you have a timber, mix conifers and hardwoods because hardwoods won’t burn as explosively.  After pruning or cutting down trees, lop or chip slash any pieces so that everything lies close to the ground and decays quickly. You can also pile it and burn it later when the chances of wildfire are low.  

Learn more about protecting your home, property, and family from wildfires

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