Over the last few weeks, we’ve been sharing examples of how to prepare your home for a wildfire. For a quick review: Defensible Space is broken down into three different Home Ignition Zones – Immediate, Intermediate and Extended. The Immediate and Intermediate Zones are the most important zones to work in because they are where we achieve the most impact on Defensible Space.
This week we will wrap up with how to reduce wildfire risk in the Extended Zone (30-100 feet) and ensure emergency services can effectively and efficiently access your home.
Planned neighborhoods typically have lot sizes smaller than 1 acre and these closely spaced homes don’t have an Extended Zone portion of their Defensible Space. Community members can take this opportunity to work together and to create overlapping zones and improve the overall wildfire resiliency of the entire community.
When assessing the Extended Zone for communities and small private landowners alike, the easiest and first thing to examine is address signage and driveway access. Having highly visible address signage at all times of the day, along with properly managed vegetation along your driveway, can help emergency responders effectively and efficiently find a home.
Non-reflective address signage can be hard to see at dusk, night, and dawn and could increase the response time of emergency services. No signage at all makes it even more difficult.
Easily seen address signage that is reflective and high contrast will assist in improving emergency services response times.
When vegetation encroaches on driveways, it can decrease the ability of emergency services to access a home and property.
Maintaining vegetation along driveways by pruning trees up to 15-feet and cutting vegetation back to maintain a 12-foot driveway width ensures safe vehicle access for homeowners and emergency vehicles.
A final thought: Do you have an evacuation plan? An evacuation plan is just as important as developing a Defensible Space. The following links can help you prepare your family’s home evacuation plan.
- Project Wildfire – Evacuation
- Oregon State University Extension: Preparing Your Family for Emergencies
If you would like to do your own home wildfire risk assessment, check out this video.
Matt Axe, Program Coordinator, Wildfire and Forest Resiliency
Thanks to our partners Washington State Department of Natural Resources, King County Emergency Management, Public Health — Seattle & King County – King County Environmental Health Services Division and more.
Matt served 10 years in the U.S. Army before returning to school at Green River College where he acquired on the ground skills and experience in forestry completing applied associate degrees in Wildfire, Forestry, Parks, and Recreation Management and a bachelor’s degree in forest management. Matt is passionate about protecting our forests, helping the diverse communities that live in Wildland Urban Interface zones, and empowering private landowners to take actions that make their communities and homes more wildfire resilient.