Fire Safety Friday: Assessing Risk

The past year has definitely been one that no one could have anticipated. Spring has come to Western Washington and many of the things we spoke about last year in our Fire Safety Friday posts haven’t changed all that much. We all have our favorite activities and projects that we like to do, and then there are some of the chores and tasks that we must do.

Last year we highlighted some things that we all can do to be more prepared for the upcoming wildfire season and we are going to revisit those again in the coming weeks. We hope that by laying out the work in simple, easy steps we can move them from your list of chores to your favorite activities.

These weekly recommendations will help you be prepared for a potential wildfire event, and we will wrap up with an online live webinar on Thursday, May 6 to go in-depth and pose questions to the multiple experts. National Wildfire Community Preparedness Day is on May 1 this year and while the webinar is on May 6, these posts should prepare to you participate either in your community or at home on your own.

We will also share information from our partners at Washington State Department of Natural ResourcesKing County Emergency Management, Public Health — Seattle & King County – King County Environmental Health Services Divison and many others throughout the state and county. Today, we are starting with information about “Defensible Space.” This refers to the natural or landscaped areas around our homes that is maintained and designated to reduce fire danger.

Home Ignition Zones

Defensible space is broken down into three specific Home Ignition ZonesImmediate, Intermediate and Extended. Over the next few weeks, we will discuss some common observations and recommendations to reduce wildfire risk in each of these zones.

Here are a few suggestions to do in the Immediate Zone, which includes your home and the area out to 5 feet.

  • If you are able, get on your roof to clear fine fuels.If you are able, get on your roof to clear fine fuels.
  • Clear gutters of accumulated debris.Clear gutters of accumulated debris.
  • Clear fine fuels from channels. Clear fine fuels from channels.

Removing the accumulation of fine fuels from your roof, gutters and around the base of your home reduces the risk of a wind-blown ember starting a fire on or next to your home.

Now that the colder weather is behind us, moving your firewood or any other combustible material out to 30 feet will reduce the risk of a fire starting from a wind-blown ember and increasing in size directly next to your home.

Keep combustibles away from the home also reduces risk.

Next week we will explain what you can do in the Intermediate Zone (the next 5′ to 30′) around your home.


If you are interested in more information or remote technical assistance, reach out to matthew.axe@kingcd.org or call 425-773-5060.

Matt Axe, Program Coordinator, Wildfire and Forest Resiliency

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