Wildfire threatens hom near Possum Kingdom, Texas.
17 Jun 2018

Teaching Fire Prevention to the Public: 10 easy ways to defend your home or cottage against forest fires


Tim McDermott, Emergency Manager at the Halifax Regional Police, has written some simple guidelines which can help keep a house or cabin safer from getting involved when a forest fire gets dangerously close to towns or properties.

Text courtesy of Tim McDermott via LinkedIn

There is a common misperception amongst many home owners that preparing one’s home to deal with the threat of a wildfire is an impossible task. The reality is that there are simple practical steps a home owner can take to significantly improve the likelihood that their home will survive a fire.

These simple ten steps will dramatically improve the chances of your home not being destroyed in a wildfire.

1.  Clean out your storm gutters. Pine needles, dried leaves, sticks, twigs and debris are highly flammable. Firebrands and embers can easily ignite material in your storm gutters.  

2.  Clean any debris off your roof.  Most fires that start on a roof are caused by debris, not roofing material catching on fire. When the time comes to replace your roof, make sure you select Class A, B, or C shingles or even better…a metal roof.

3. Remove dead leaves and other combustible material from around your house. The rule of thumbs is remove all combustible debris within 100 feet of your house. Pay special attention to debris located under your deck and steps. Don’t forget the garage, shed, and any other out buildings. Make sure they are clear of debris too.

4. If you have mature trees, make sure that none of the branches hang over your roof. Trim off all dead branches less than six feet from the ground. Clear out debris from under your trees.

5. It’s okay to have bushes around your house, but check under the bush to ensure there is no dead material. Green bushes = good…brown bushes = bad.

6. Remove Mulch beds from around your house. Combustible mulch should never be closer than 10 feet from your house. Any decorative cover should be fireproof.

7.  Install a fine metal insect screen behind your decorative roof vents to prevent firebrands and embers from being blown into your attic. If you have deck skirting or lattice, install screen behind it to prevent embers, and critters from getting under your deck

8.  Move your wood pile if it is closer than 10 feet from your house.  Moving it to 11 feet is being lazy…move it at least 50 feet. You can always move it back in the fall.

9. Mow your lawn and remove the clippings. A well mowed lawn isn’t just sexy… it is fire smart.

10. Move anything else that is combustible off your porch and deck. That includes things such as seat cushions, combustible lawn and deck furniture, propane tanks, brooms, floor mats (especially grass and jute mats), and awnings.


Cover Photo Courtesy of FireWise.org on Flickr: (Above)

Wildfire threatens a home near Possum Kingdom, Texas. Wildland fires are a serious threat to lives and property in the U.S. The combination of drought, mild temperatures, high winds and an excess of dried vegetation in forests and grasslands has made fire seasons progressively worse over the past 50 years. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Firewise Communities/USA Recognition Program is a process that empowers neighbors to work together in reducing their wildfire risk. State Farm has provided grants for communities to prepare for another potentially deadly wildfire season. To learn more about preparing your community or home, visit www.firewise.org.