Spring is usually when local fire departments are training for wildfire response and making public appeals for preparedness work around homes. Yet, in response to the coronavirus, both have become very difficult tasks while wildfire season still approaches. There has never been a more important time for residents to play their part in wildfire risk reduction. Two recent articles highlight this message and some key tips from Firewise USA can provide you with guidance for action around your property.
In an article and video from California’s KTVU, Santa Rosa Assistant Fire Marshal Paul Lowenthal explains that, “We're both in the same boat. The focus is on the pandemic, but not ignoring the fact June is around the corner…we need to make sure the community understands that even though they may have to shelter in place or are under quarantine, there are things they can be doing pro-actively around their home." The article also speaks to the challenges the department is seeing in training firefighters in large groups because of physical distancing requirements.
This challenge of training for, deploying to, and fighting large wildfires is also highlighted in a recent article from Alaska. Their state division of forestry shares that, “We face a tremendous additional challenge this year in the form of the COVID-19 pandemic. As our number-one priority is the safety of the public and firefighters, we plan to follow as closely as possible the Centers for Disease Control anti-virus protocols and best practices on hygiene standards, social distancing, and non-essential travel.”
To meet this challenge, they note various operational efforts being employed and make a special appeal to residents, stating, “Be a leader in your community by helping us spread the fire safety message. Use the unexpected opportunity from self-quarantine to use the Firewise program to make your property and your neighbors’ as fire-resistant and resilient as possible.”
So, what can you do to play your part and make both your home and responding firefighters safer from wildfire? Start with these simple steps on the house itself like cleaning out gutters of seasonal debris and then move to cleaning in the 0-5 foot “immediate zone” around the house.
In addition, this 2-minute video helps you identify 5 key areas around the home you must examine when assessing wildfire risk and easy ways to reduce that risk. A great step you can also take is to share the video link with your neighbors and play your part in building your community’s wildfire education.
As we navigate the evolving situation with COVID-19, NFPA remains committed to supporting you with the resources you need to minimize risk and help prevent loss, injuries, and death from fire, electrical, and other hazards. For information on NFPA’s response to the coronavirus, please visit our webpage.
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