It may not be a sexy topic, but fireproofing your home is essential and something you should take seriously. If you live in Boise, you know that our summers are especially hot and dry making our homes vulnerable to fire. And, if you have lived through a wildfire, as I have (thankfully with lives and house intact), you know how fast it can spread and how scary it is.

After I was evacuated from my East Boise home a few years back, I remember driving down my street and wondering if that was the last time I would see my house—and my belongings. It was a typical hot, late August afternoon and I had family visiting from out-of-town. The kids were playing in the backyard pool, the guys were keeping watch over steaks on the grill, and my sister and I were sipping wine and tending to dinner on the stove. It was a lovely day … and then everything changed.

A gusty wind picked up, turning the blue sky brown, and we watched as the blowing dust obscured our view of the foothills. Soon after, a plume of smoke could be seen close by, followed by police on loud speakers ordering us to evacuate as fire was heading our way. After several dramatic hours, several nearby homes destroyed and, most tragic of all, a life lost, we were safely back in our homes. The fire never actually made it to our fence line, thanks to the brave men and women of the Boise Fire Department, Bureau of Land Management team, Boise Police Department, other emergency responders, and my hose-wielding husband who ignored evacuation orders and stayed behind to soak down everything within reach. However, this event made me realize how woefully unprepared we, and our house was, for an event like this.

There are things we can all do to ensure our homes and our families are protected from these types of incidents. We need to take personal responsibility and prepare long before the threat of a wildland fire so our homes are ready in case it happens. Create defensible space by clearing brush away from your home. Use fire-resistant landscaping and harden your home with fire-safe construction measures. Assemble emergency supplies and belongings in a safe place. Plan escape routes and make sure all those residing within the home know the plan of action.

Homeowner Checklist for Action Steps:

  • Clear needles, leaves and other debris from the roof, gutters, eaves, porches and decks. This reduces the chances of embers igniting your home.
  • To reduce ember penetration, replace or repair loose or missing roof shingles or tiles, and caulk any gaps or openings on roof edges.
  • Cover exterior attic vents, and enclose under-eave and soffit vents with metal wire mesh no larger than 1/8 inch to prevent embers from entering the home.
  • Remove items stored under decks or porches; replace vegetation in these areas with rock or gravel.
  • Replace mulch with hardscaping, including rock, gravel or stone. If it can catch fire, don’t let it touch your house, deck or porch.
  • Remove flammable items within 30 feet of all structures including firewood piles, portable propane tanks and dry and dead vegetation.
  • Dry grass and shrubs are fuel for wildfire so keep your lawn hydrated and maintained. If it is brown, trim it to reduce fire intensity, and don’t let debris and lawn cuttings linger. Dispose of these items quickly to reduce fuel for fire.
  • Fire can spread to tree tops. If you have tall trees on your property, prune low hanging branches 6 to 10 feet from the ground and for smaller trees, prune low hanging branches no more than a third of the tree’s height. Remove tall grasses, vines and shrubs from under trees.
  • Talk to your neighbors and create a plan. Neighbors are linked by their wildfire risk. If one home is inadequately prepared, the risk level to the entire neighborhood increases, and everyone’s safety is impacted. Work with your neighbors to make a difference.

 

Lessons were learned from the tragic Oregon Trail fire of 2008, and the City of Boise is also doing its part to help mitigate future fires. The City now has a dedicated interdepartmental wildfire mitigation team, a set of building and fire prevention codes specific to the wildland-urban interface (WUI) and it has brought in stakeholders and built numerous partnerships in this arena. However, homeowners are the first line of defense and it is up to us to do our part for the safety of our homes, families and neighborhoods.

If you are looking for a beautiful new home in East Boise, call Templeton Real Estate Group—208.473.2203 today. Our years of expertise and knowledge will guide you through the process, selling and/or buying, and answer all of your questions! We are TOP BOISE REAL ESTATE agents who know Boise real estate. We would love to help you find your dream home!

By Bonnie Way Snider

Read More and Sources:

http://www.firewise.org/wildfire-preparedness/be-firewise/home-and-landscape/defensible-space.aspx

http://www.fireadapted.org/

http://www.wildlandfirersg.org/

http://fire.cityofboise.org/fire-prevention/wildfire-mitigation/