Firewise How-To Q&A: encouraging insights from leading fire expert

Blog Post created by michelesteinberg Employee on Feb 3, 2016

It seems that recent news accounts concerning wildfires relate stories of fires that burn hotter and out of control, moving swiftly across acres of fire-prone areas with seemingly little one can do except hope to get out of the way. At last fall's Backyards and Beyond Conference, NFPA’s Faith Berry had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Jack Cohen, among the world’s leading researchers of fire behavior, about his insights regarding the nature of wildfires and the actions we all can take to protect our homes and communities.

Despite the changes to fire behavior that have been observed during recent fire seasons, Dr. Cohen affirmed that proactive efforts to prepare the home ignition zone (HIZ) can still make a difference. By taking action in the HIZ—the property encompassing 100 to 200 feet around your home—you can create a cushion of defensibility that could save your home and protect your loved ones.

These preparations can include clearing combustible debris from gutters and any nooks and crannies around or under structures; making sure you’ve used building materials that follow recommended codes; repairing mesh screening and other openings to prevent easy access for embers; keeping grasses cut, and trimming tree limbs that are within 6 to 10 feet of the ground, particularly those within 100 feet of your home; installing fire breaks, such as gravel, stone or asphalt pathways; and keeping logs for your fireplace at least 30 feet from structures.

Faith shares Dr. Cohen’s insights in her Firewise How-To blog, “Interview with Jack Cohen: Offering Perspective on Current Wildland Fire Conditions.”