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Ready, Set, Go - Wildland Fire Action Guide

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Wildland Fire ACTION GUIDE

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T he wildland fire season is becoming a year round reality in the United States This strains firefighting resources and emphasizes the need for residents to be proactive and prepared for the threat of wildland fire Wildland fire is and always has been a natural occurrence Hills canyons grasslands and forests burn periodically as part of a healthy ecosystem Wildland fires are fueled by dry vegetation driven by increasing seasonal temperatures and fanned by dry winds Wildland fires are also increasingly dangerous with the inclusion of homes in vegetated areas Saving Lives and Property through Advance Planning and Action This publication was prepared by the International Association of Fire Chiefs RSG Program and supported by the USDA Forest Service U S Department of the Interior Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U S Fire Administration Inside Wildland Urban Interface 3 What is Defensible Space 4 Making Your Home Fire Resistant 5 A Wildland Fire Ready Home 6 7 Ready Prepare Your Household Checklist 8 Set As the Fire Approaches Checklist 9 Go Leave Early Checklist 10 Your Own Wildland Fire Action Guide 11 2 READY SET GO Each year wildland fire threatens thousands of homes in the wildland urban interface WUI an area or zone where human development meets or mixes with natural vegetation Studies show as many as 80 percent of homes lost to wildland fires could have been saved if their owners had followed simple riskreduction practices In addition wildland fire related deaths can occur because people wait too long to leave their homes Proactive mitigation around your property and safe and early evacuation can help protect you your household and your property In this Action Guide we provide tips and tools you need to prepare your home your property and your household for a wildland fire threat to have situational awareness when a fire starts and to act early as directed by local officials Remember all efforts to improve defensible space on your property can decrease property damage and help firefighters with suppression efforts Taking advance personal action can result in improved safety for all involved The Ready Set Go RSG Program works in collaboration with existing local wildland fire public education efforts and amplifies the common goal for wildland fire preparedness The tips on the following pages are designed to help guide action and create a safer environment for you your household and first responders It is not a question of if but when the next major wildland fire will occur Use this Action Guide to help you become wildland fire ready Visit us at wildlandfireRSG org to learn more about becoming prepared

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begins with property owners taking action Defensible Space and Fire Resistant Landscaping Can Protect Your Home If you live next to a dense vegetation area the WUI you should provide defensible space to better protect your home and create a safer area for firefighters to operate if they have the capacity to defend your home Creating a buffer zone by removing weeds dried grass brush and other vegetation helps keep the fire away from your home and reduces the risk of ignition from flying embers Defensible space around property created with different types of rock mulch Consider This Unmanaged and overgrown vegetation between and around homes increases the risk of wildland fire spreading throughout the community and endangering lives and property Pre fire planning through mitigation and vegetation management allows firefighters the ability to fight wildland fires more safely The work you complete today may save your home and protect a firefighter tomorrow Defensible space works with well maintained fire resistant vegetation Ember Zone An ember is a small glowing fragment from a wildland fire that is carried by the wind Embers are light enough to travel long distances and are the primary reason homes ignite often times significant distances from the actual flame front of a wildland fire Embers travel inside your home through vents windows and other openings Homes on the Wildland Boundary Are at Risk Too TX A M Forest Service Ember damage but structure saved If your home is within one mile of a natural area it may be considered part of an ember zone Keep in mind embers can destroy homes or neighborhoods far from the actual front of the fire You and your home must be prepared well before a fire occurs Use the following pages to help ready you and your home well before a fire occurs Red Flag Warning A Red Flag Warning is issued by the National Weather Service when low humidity warm temperatures dry fuels and strong winds could combine to produce extreme fire behavior Fires occurring during a Red Flag day can be very dangerous as wildland fires can spread rapidly You should always follow the instructions provided by your local emergency response organizations and be prepared to take immediate action WILDLAND FIRE ACTION GUIDE 3

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Create Defensible Space D efensible space is the area around your home in which vegetation debris and other combustible fuels have been removed to slow the spread of fire to and from the home It can better protect the home from igniting due to direct flame contact and radiant heat Defensible space is essential to help protect a structure and create a safer area for firefighters during a wildland fire You can create defensible space by removing weeds brush and firewood and by spacing out vegetation around your property Although this might seem like a daunting task we recommend starting in Zone 1 and working your way out Follow the considerations below for each zone and your property can become safer with each step ZONE 1 0 5 feet around your home or to property line ZONE 2 5 30 feet around your home or to property line ZONE 3 30 200 feet around your home or to property line Use hard scape such as concrete or noncombustible rock mulch around your home Create vegetation groups or islands to break up continuous fuels around your home Create and maintain a minimum of 10 feet between the tops of trees Clean roofs and gutters of dead leaves debris and pine needles Remove ladder fuels to create a separation between low level vegetation and tree canopies and keep fire from climbing into trees Store firewood and other combustible materials away from your home garage or attached deck Prune away touching or over hanging branches from the roof to a distance of at least 10 feet Replace or repair any loose or missing shingles or roof tiles to prevent ember penetration Rake and remove flammable vegetation such as leaves and needles or wood mulch from underneath your deck and away from your home Use non wood low growing herbaceous vegetation Succulents or other fire resistant plants are recommended choices Remove leaf and needle debris from the yard Keep lawns native grasses and wildflowers less than four inches in height Store firewood and other combustible materials away from outbuildings such as a shed or barn Move trailers recreational vehicles storage sheds and other combustible structures out of this zone and into Zone 3 If unable to move create defensible space around them as if they were a part of your home Safely remove ladder fuels up to a height of 10 feet while retaining at least 75 percent of the foliage to create separation between the ground and tree branches This keeps fire from climbing into the canopies of the trees Store firewood in this area keeping a safe distance from your property Create space between shrubs and trees to eliminate a continuous fuel bed at the ground level Remove dead trees shrubs and all other dead or dry vegetation Create separation between your property and neighbors Consider your trees may pose a greater risk to your neighbor than to your home Remember the Ember Zone Embers are burning pieces of airborne material that can be carried more than a mile by the wind Research points to embers and small flames as the main way homes ignite in wildland fires 4 READY SET GO

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Make Your Home Fire Resistant Harden Your Home C onstruction materials and the quality of the defensible space surrounding the structure are what increases the chance of survival in a wildland fire Embers from a wildland fire will find the weak spot in your home s fire protection scheme and can easily lodge in small overlooked or seemingly inconsequential areas Below are some home hardening measures you can take to safeguard your home Balconies and Decks Fire Resistant Deck Materials Gutter Guards or Screens Enclosed Eaves Enclosed Eaves Construct your balconies or decks with noncombustible materials and do not store combustible items underneath them If there is a fire threat bring any furniture into your home Embers can collect in or on combustible surfaces or beneath decks and balconies igniting the material and giving a path for the fire to enter your home Remove pine needles leaves grass or any other flammable materials from underneath your deck Roofs Roofs are vulnerable to embers that become lodged and can start a fire especially anywhere on the roof with litter buildup Roof valleys open ends of barrel tiles and rain gutters are all points of entry Block off all open spaces and regularly inspect these areas Remove any combustible material Eaves Embers can gather under open eaves and ignite combustible material Enclose your eaves with non combustible or ignition resistant material to prevent ember intrusion and regularly clear away debris that collects here Vents Screened Vents Embers can enter the attic or other concealed spaces and ignite combustible materials through open and unscreened vents Vents in eaves gables and cornices are particularly vulnerable if not properly screened with wire mesh Use corrosion resistant metal mesh to screen all vents and check them regularly to remove any debris that collects in front of the screen Walls and Fencing Noncombustible Fencing Combustible siding or fencing provide surfaces and crevices for embers to nestle and ignite Ensure wooden fences do not connect directly to the house Create a break in the fence by using a gate or noncombustible substitute to connect to the house Build or remodel with noncombustible or ignition resistant materials wherever possible regularly clear away debris from any crevices and perform annual upkeep Windows and Doors Windows Clear of Vegetation Embers can enter gaps in doors including garage doors Install weather proofing around your garage door and if your garage is attached to your home make sure the interior door is solid and on self closing hinges Plants or combustible storage near windows can be ignited from embers and generate heat that can break windows and or melt combustible frames Wherever possible use dual paned windows with tempered glass as they are less likely to shatter from radiant heat WILDLAND FIRE ACTION GUIDE 5

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Tour a Wildland Fire Prepared Home Home Site and Yard Ensure all vegetation within 200 feet around your home or to your property line is well managed This area may need to be enlarged in severe fire hazard areas due to topographic conditions This may mean considering the impact a common slope or neighbor s yard may have on your wildland fire risk Remember the importance of routine maintenance creating defensible space is not something you do just once it s continual Maintain your defensible space and remove any regrowth Keep woodpiles propane tanks and combustible materials away from your home and other structures such as detached garages barns and sheds Ensure trees are away from power lines Inside Keep working fire extinguishers on hand Install smoke alarms on each level of your home and near bedrooms Test them monthly and change the batteries twice a year Address Make sure your address is clearly visible from the road and constructed of noncombustible materials Reflective numbering is recommended Check with your local fire department to see if they offer reflective address signs Roof Use a Class A fire rated roof covering such as composition shingles metal or tile when roofing or re roofing Block any spaces between roof decking by using a noncombustible underlayment covering to minimize ember intrusion Clear pine needles leaves and other debris from your roof and gutters Prune tree branches within 10 feet of your roof Deck Patio Cover Use heavy timber or noncombustible construction material for decks Keep your deck clear of combustible items such as baskets flower arrangements and other material Combustible materials should not be stored under your deck Ladders Having a ladder readily accessible could assist responders in protecting your home during a wildland fire Vents At a minimum all vent openings should be covered with 1 8 inch corrosion resistant metal mesh Windows Radiant heat from burning vegetation or a nearby structure can cause the glass in windows to break This will allow flames to enter your home and start internal fires Single pane and large picture windows are particularly vulnerable to glass breakage Install dualpaned windows with a minimum of one pane being tempered glass to reduce the chance of breakage during a fire Metal blinds are best to protect the interior from radiant heat 6 READY SET GO

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Chimney Ensure your chimney or stovepipe outlets are equipped with a spark arrestor that has a mesh size no greater than inch This limits the size particulate leaving the chimney Walls Wood vinyl and other plastic siding and trim products are combustible Consider building or remodeling with ignition resistant or noncombustible building materials such as brick cement masonry or stucco Gutters Screen or cover rain gutters with a flat noncombustible guard or screen If possible the guard or screen should follow the slope of the roof and fit onto or inside of the gutter Remove debris from gutters at least twice a year or more if necessary Eaves Box in eaves with a noncombustible or ignition resistant material Fencing Use noncombustible fencing within 5 feet of your home Area at the base of the fence should be kept clear of debris Water Have multiple garden hoses that are long enough to reach any area of your home and other structures on your property If you have a pool pond or irrigation ditch consider a pump Garage Install weather stripping around and under the vehicle access door This will reduce the intrusion of embers If the garage is attached to the home install a solid door with self closing hinges between living areas and garage Keep combustible and flammable liquids away from combustion equipment e g hot water heater Driveways Driveways should be designed to allow emergency vehicles and their equipment to reach your house Ensure that all gate openings are wide enough to accommodate emergency vehicles and equipment Trim trees and shrubs overhanging the road back to a minimum of 15 feet to allow emergency vehicles access WILDLAND FIRE ACTION GUIDE 7

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Create Your Own Action Guide Y our Wildland Fire Action Guide must be prepared with all members of your household well in advance of a wildland fire Use these checklists to help you get Ready and Set with situational awareness in the threat of wildland fire G et Ready q Create a Household Action Plan that includes evacuation meeting locations and communication plans rehearse it regularly Include the evacuation of all pets and large animals which may include horses and livestock in your plan q Designate an emergency meeting location outside the wildland fire hazard area q Plan and practice several different evacuation routes q Have fire extinguishers on hand and teach your household how to use them q Ensure that everyone in your household knows where your q Assemble a Go Kit as recommended by the American Red gas electric and water main shut off controls are located and how to use them Cross Keep an extra kit in your vehicle Check page 10 for a list of recommended emergency supplies q Maintain a list of emergency contact numbers in your Go Kit q Have a portable radio or scanner so you can stay updated on the fire and weather emergency announcements q Assemble a Go Kit for your pet s including food water medications and vaccination records q Appoint an out of area friend or relative as a point of contact so you can communicate with family members q Sign up for your local emergency notification system Check your local fire department or emergency management agency websites for information on the system used in your area 8 READY SET GO REMEMBER THE 8 P S q People Pets q Pictures Photo Albums q PC s q Papers important q Prescriptions Medications don t forget your pets q Plastics credit cards q Personal Devices phones and chargers q Passports IDs

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Prepare and Be Aware q Monitor fire weather conditions and fire q Alert household and neighbors q Dress in appropriate clothing i e clothing q Turn off propane tanks and other gas at q Don t leave sprinklers on or water running q Leave exterior lights on q Back your car into the driveway to facilitate q Ensure that you have your Go Kit on hand that includes all necessary items such as a battery powered radio spare batteries emergency contact numbers and drinking water q Remain close to your house drink plenty of water and ensure your household members and pets are accounted for and ready to leave windows and ensure all blinds remain open unless you have metal blinds Close all metal blinds q Move furniture to the center of the room q Turn off pilot lights and air conditioning q Leave your lights on so firefighters can see away from windows and doors units your house under smoky conditions OUTSIDE CHECKLIST IF TIME ALLOWS q Make sure combustible items are a safe distance away from the exterior of the house e g patio furniture children s toys door mats etc If you have time place these items inside the meter They can effect critical water pressure a quick departure Shut doors and roll up windows q Have a ladder ready to cover attic vents and ground vents with pre cut plywood or commercial seals Do so in a safe manner and only if time permits q Patrol your property and extinguish small fires if you can do so safely until you leave IF YOU ARE TRAPPED SURVIVAL TIPS q If you have become trapped and cannot q Stay in your home sheltering away from q Look for spot fires and extinguish if found q Wear long sleeves long pants and a bandana q Stay hydrated q Ensure you can exit the home if it catches fire q Fill sinks and tubs for an emergency q Place wet towels under doors to keep smoke q After the fire has passed check your roof and q Close all windows and doors q Remove all shades and curtains from made from natural fibers such as cotton and work boots Have goggles and a dry bandana or particle mask handy INSIDE CHECKLIST IF TIME ALLOWS your garage or home where they will not become a hazard status Check your local fire department or emergency management websites and social media accounts for wildland fire information Stay tuned to your TV or local radio stations for updates including Red Flag Warnings in your area evacuate call 9 1 1 immediately walls until the fire passes or emergency personnel tell you differently Follow their instructions and commands inside house made of natural fibers such as cotton remember if it s hot inside the house it is four to five times hotter outside be prepared water supply and embers out extinguish any fires sparks or embers if you are able to safely do so Check the attic as well WILDLAND FIRE ACTION GUIDE 9

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Act Early Leaving early gives you and your household members the best chance of surviving a wildland fire You also help firefighters by keeping roads clear of congestion enabling them to move more freely and do their job in a safer environment Be sure to follow the direction of your local authorities WHEN TO LEAVE Do not wait to be advised to leave if there is a possible threat to your home or evacuation route Leave early enough to avoid being caught in fire smoke or road congestion If you are advised to leave by local authorities do not hesitate WHERE TO GO Go to a predetermined location it should be a low risk area such as a relative s house a Red Cross shelter or evacuation center motel etc EMERGENCY SUPPLIES LIST FOR GO KIT The American Red Cross recommends every household have an emergency supply kit assembled long before a wildland fire or other emergency occurs Use the checklist below to help assemble yours For more information on emergency supplies visit redcross org get help HOW TO GET THERE Have several travel routes in case one route is blocked by the fire or by emergency vehicles Choose the safest route away from the fire WHAT TO TAKE Take your Go Kit containing your household members and pet s necessary items q Three day supply of water one gallon per person per day and non perishable food for household members 3 day supply q First aid kit and sanitation supplies including toilet paper and baby wipes q Flashlight battery powered radio and extra batteries q An extra set of car keys credit cards cash or traveler s checks q Extra eyeglasses contact lenses q Important household member q Map marked with evacuation routes q Easily carried valuables and q Personal electronic devices and q Keep a pair of old shoes and a prescriptions and medications documents and contact numbers including insurance documents It is important to have a printed map in case your phone dies It may also be easier to see the printed map than a phone screen under smokey conditions irreplaceable items chargers flashlight handy in case of a sudden evacuation at night IAFC Wildland Fire Programs are funded through a DHS FEMA AFG FP S grant awarded FY2018 EMW 2018 FP 00279 and in cooperation with the USDA Forest Service In accordance with Federal law and U S Department of Agriculture policy this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race color national origin sex age or disability Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs To file a complaint alleging discrimination write USDA Director Office of Civil Rights 1400 Independence Avenue SW Washington DC 20250 9410 or call toll free voice 866 632 9992 TDD 800 877 8339 or voice relay 866 377 8642 USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer 10 READY SET GO

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Wildland Fire ACTION PLAN Write up your Wildland Fire Action Plan and post it in a location where every member of your household can see it Rehearse it with your household During high fire danger days in your area monitor your local media for information and be ready to implement your plan Hot dry and windy conditions create the perfect environment for a wildland fire IMPORTANT PHONE NUMBERS Out of Area Contact ______________________________________________ Phone ________________ Work ______________________________ ______________________________ ________________ School ______________________________ ______________________________ ________________ Other ______________________________ ______________________________ ________________ EVACUATION ROUTES 1 ____________________________________________________________________________________ 2 ____________________________________________________________________________________ 3 ____________________________________________________________________________________ WHERE TO GO ______________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________ LOCATION OF GO KIT S _____________________________________________________________________________________ NOTES _____________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________ Contact your local fire department for more tips on preparing before a wildland fire

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Wildland Fire ACTION PLAN Residential Safety Checklist Tips to Improve Household and Property Survival During a Wildland Fire Get Ready Dispose of or relocate combustible material from around your home Trim trees and bushes allowing ample space between your home and landscape vegetation Arrange your Go Kit with prescription medication emergency supplies important documents and other essential items Sign up for your local emergency notification system Prepare and Be Aware Make sure you have your Go Kit on hand in an accessible place Alert household and neighbors of your action plan Ensure your household members and pets are accounted for and ready to leave Monitor local fire weather conditions and listen to emergency notification systems Act Early Get your Go Kit and leave well before the threat approaches following a planned accessible route Stay aware of the situation and follow your plan Cooperate with local authorities during evacuation and re entry processes wildlandfireRSG org