Preparing for wildfires

Preparing for wildfire: what you can do in a weekend

It’s late August. The days are noticeably shorter, southerly bird migration has begun, and (gasp!) kids will be going back to school soon. You’re probably also noticing that your bounty of flowering plants is looking a bit ragged. To help shorten your list of fall clean-up chores, get a jump on things now! Your property will also be in better condition should a wildfire occur in your area.

Resident remove dead branches from around their home to reduce their risk should a wildfire occure in their area.

Removing dead trees, branches and shrubs from around you home can help reduce your wildfire risk should a wildfire occur in your area.

While we see most Wisconsin wildfire activity in the spring, fires can occur any time of the year when snow is not on the ground. We see spikes in occurrence in summer during dry spells and again in autumn when the leaves fall and the ground vegetation cures. All this dry matter can become fuel for a wildfire. Removing this debris is particularly important if you live or own property in a community at risk. In short, these are areas where sandy soils, oaks and pine trees are abundant.

What can you do? Start with the area immediately around your home and work outwards from there. Cut back the flowering plants that have faded and compost the debris. Remove any dead trees, branches or shrubs. If you have evergreens around your home, look at how close they are to one another. Evergreens are especially flammable; consider removing any trees necessary to keep at least 15 feet between the branches from tree to tree within 30 feet of buildings. Prune lower branches up and away from the ground. Check your town’s website for info on timing of curbside brush pick-up or brush collection site hours. These types of services are generally offered on a limited basis, so don’t miss out! For more info on ways to prepare your home for wildfire, check out our website!

Time together means time to talk wildfire

Adams County Association Meeting

Property owners at an annual association meeting in Adams County test their wildfire knowledge.

Do you have a meeting or event with your neighborhood association this summer?  If your area is at risk to wildfire then this is a great opportunity to raise awareness of fire risk, educate people about local burning restrictions and review actions people can take to prepare their properties ahead of the flames.  Learn more at dnr.wi.gov, search “fire”.

Homes can survive a wildfire!

The Pleasant Valley Fire in Eau Claire Co. occurred on April 30th, burned 122 acres and 1 structure. Fortunately, 19 structures were threatened and saved.

The Pleasant Valley Fire in Eau Claire Co. occurred on April 30th, burned 122 acres and 1 structure. Fortunately, 19 structures were threatened and saved.

With fire season still lingering in the north, the DNR has reported 53 structures destroyed by wildfires so far this year.  The good news is, 439 were also threatened yet saved with firefighter assistance.

To find out if your home or cabin is a high wildfire risk area, ask yourself these questions: Is your place surrounded by oak or pine trees? Are your rain gutters full of pine needles? Is your lawn covered with leaves? Is there a Smokey Bear fire danger sign in your community?

 

 

You can help firefighters better protect your home and property by making simple changes to reduce wildfire risk.

You can help firefighters better protect your home and property by making simple changes to reduce wildfire risk.

If you answered “yes,” you might have some work to do! As we head into the long weekend, grab a rake and gloves, and take a peek at ways you can prepare your property for wildfire.  Avoid burning by hauling the debris to a brush & leaf drop-off site or compost the material. https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/ForestFire/preparing.html

The honored role of the emergency fire warden, yesterday and today

by: Catherine Koele, DNR wildfire prevention specialist

Rooted deep in Wisconsin’s forest fire control history, the Emergency Fire Warden (EFW) program is a long-standing partnership that has benefitted the State of Wisconsin since the turn of the century.  While the role and number of EFWs has changed significantly over time, evolving from detection and suppression duties to the current role of mainly issuing burning permits, a few of those iconic ‘fire warden’ signs continue to hang on fence posts in small, rural communities throughout Wisconsin.

Photo of an Emergency Fire Warden that was taken near Park Falls, WI in 1955

Historically, emergency fire wardens played an important role in preventing, detecting and suppressing wildfires. Photo taken in 1955 near Park Falls, WI.

Since 1885, Wisconsin’s emergency fire wardens have been on the front line of forest fire control, promoting fire prevention and helping to fight fires. Fire wardens were expected to post fire warnings, prohibit burning during dry months and report on fires.  Fire wardens were often the first to report forest fires to the local fire departments and ranger stations.  They also organized, hired and served on fire-fighting crews.

Men and women from all walks of life volunteered to become emergency fire wardens; farmers, shopkeepers, mechanics, teachers, tavern owners, loggers, paper mill employees, retired couples and many others.  In addition to fighting fires, they were asked to issue burning permits and keep track of who was burning and where, in case a fire was to get out of control. Continue reading “The honored role of the emergency fire warden, yesterday and today”