New guide issued on forest fire safety

New guide issued on forest fire safety

9 September 2005

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Protecting your home from wildfires, the County Fire Association and the Alabama Forestery Commission have issued a fair warning to the residents of the Covington County area. The Alabama Forestery Commission has composed a guide that details safety tips that home owners can follow to protect their homes from unpredictable wildfires. The guide mainly speaks on suppression and defensible space around the home.

“If the resident follows the six steps listed in the fire wise guide, they can begin to rid their homes of possible fire hazards like determining the size of your homes defensible space, reducing dead vegetation around the homes, provide spaces between the vegetation, remove ladder fuel, make defensible space lean, clean and green and maintain defensible space at all times,” said County Fire Association President Cory Spurlin.

The ability of the citizen of Covington County to live more safely in this environment depends on “pre-fire” activities. By being proactive before a wildfire occurs, residents have a better chance of saving lives and property from wildfires.

Teaching fire wise seminar in Covington County, Dixie firefighter Dale Pancake gives his insight to what a home owner should do to protect their homes.

Often a burned down structure does not have to be from direct contact, the embers from that are thrown out by the fire can cause more damage than the actual fire. The embers could get stuck in the brush, pine straw and wood stacks and cause the home to burn down.

“Clean-up brushes and pine straw, and make sure that wood pile are at least 30 feet away from the home any opening in the attic should be screened in. Controlling brush and pine straw could mean the difference in whether your building structure burns,” said Pancake.

The forest ranger can not fire proof the wooded areas, but as a resident one could manage the vegetation around the homes to create a defensible space for protection, use fire resistance materials when building or improving homes, design new sub-division structures using fire-safe materials and ensure coordination among all emergency response agencies to wild land fires.

“We have a lot of tree damage since last year’s Hurricane Ivan and with Katrina coming through, we have an increase of fuel build-up in the wooded areas. We have increased vegetation and littering that could increase the chances of having a fire during the fall and winter droughts,” said County Forester Michael Older.

The Alabama Forestery Commission works hand-in-hand with the local fire departments. In the Covington County area there are 21 volunteer fire department and the Andalusia Fire Department.

Home owners should think about getting together with their community to build fire break access for the fire trucks, said Older.

The Alabama Forestery Commission is responsible for wild fires and the Fire Department is responsible for residential fires. With the fall fire season ahead, the Alabama Forestery Commission encourages residents not to burn items outside their homes.

In the past, the Alabama Foresters Commission has had a few house to catch on fire from forest fires.

The County Fire Association has put together a safe guard for home owners to use so that they can protect their homes, said County Specialist Gary Thompson.

“We appreciate the efforts of the Alabama Forestery Commission as they help us fight to reduce the likely chances of a wild wind fire occurring in Covington County,” said Spurlin.

The foresters are trying to reduce the ladder fuel that builds up and allow the fire to reach the crown of the trees. This will make the fires uncontrollable and more intense.

Wood piles and propane tanks should be at least 30 feet away from the home, said Pancake.

By taking these simple measure like cleaning the areas around your home could help the forest rangers and the fire department, said Thompson.

As the local forest rangers and the fire departments protect Covington County the residents can do their part by cleaning up around their own back yards.

“We just need the resident to know that we are trying to save their home, they should want to save their homes to,” said Spurlin.


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