Urban landscaping for fire safety in Ashland, Oregon

Blog Post created by michelesteinberg Employee on Sep 30, 2011

AliTrue Reason #7 to attend NFPA's Backyards & Beyond conference: Learn how landscaping in an urban environment influences fire spread and behavior.

Ali True, Firewise Coordinator for the city of Ashland's Fire & Rescue Department, will review the experience of the 2010 Oak Knoll fire in Ashland, Oregon where 11 homes were lost in an area not formally considered to be "wildland/urban interface." Homes outside the mapped wildfire hazard zone of the city were not required to have nonflammable roofing, fire-resistant plantings, or defensible space. Following the fire, the city made a strong effort to promote Firewise throughout its boundaries, resulting in Oak Knoll's recent recognition as a Firewise Communities/USA site.

As Ashland Fire Chief John Karns said in an interview with the Ashland Daily Tidings  last fall, the Oak Knoll fire "was not an anomaly. It could happen again tomorrow."  WUI residents, planners, landscape architects and building officials will want to learn more from Ashland's experience. Attend this presentation to find out more about how to treat the home ignition zone in a small urban lot setting. Ms. True will review the difference between fire-prone and fire-resistant vegetation, and provide landscaping guidelines for managing wildfire fuels in a neighborhood setting.http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef014e8bef37e5970d-pi

--Michele Steinberg

Photo caption and credit: Ali True, Firewise communities coordinator for Ashland Fire & Rescue, says pampas grass is an example of a highly flammable plant that shouldn't be placed near homes. Julia Moore / Mail Tribune photo