I think we can all have a part to play, both individually and collectively.
Residents in wildfire-prone areas should prepare for wildfire by focusing on the Home Ignition Zone (HIZ). The Home Ignition Zone includes the home itself and the landscaping (especially the first 5 feet) around the home. Most homes burn during wildfire events from embers (bits of burning matter) that are lofted in the air from the wildfire and can land in this critical area. Debris such as leaves, pine needles, or branches on or around the home can act as kindling that the embers ignite and ultimately cause homes to burn.
Once this debris is removed from the home ignition zone, residents may struggle with finding a way to easily dispose of this material. Individually, it can become cost-prohibitive to hire a contractor to remove it. This cost is an obstacle to risk reduction, and worse yet, can lead people to resort to illegal dumping.
This is where participation together on a Wildfire Community Preparedness Day project can come to the rescue! Collectively working together on a neighborhood project can lower costs, lighten the workload, and make wildfire risk reduction fun! Working together with sponsors and partners can be even better.
Here are some ideas to overcome obstacles to debris removal:
- Providing green waste to a biofuel company if there is one within a reasonable distance.
- Apply for and share funding for a removal project, like the $500 awards provided with generous support from State Farm.
- Get a dumpster donated for a day and work hard to fill it up.
- Together hire a chipping contractor and donate chipped material to a park or garden area.
- Together rent a truck to take the material to a green waste recycling site.
- Hire goats!
- Connect with state, federal or other agencies to help burn material following all local and state regulations and prescribed safety precautions.
Together we all can make a difference, and being safer during a wildfire is possible! Loss from a local wildfire is not inevitable. If you've taken safety steps, please tell us about it on NFPA's Wildfire and Firewise USA Program Facebook Page or on Twitter by using the hashtag #WildfirePrepDay.
Photo credit: Taylor Hunsaker. 2018 Wildfire Community Preparedness Day chipping event in Kimberly, Idaho.