Take Action to Be Firewise 

Be a Firewise advocate – talk to your family and neighbors about wildfire safety. Discuss how your family or neighborhood can work together to prepare and protect your home, property, and community – Take Action Now.

No-Cost Actions (just some time)

There are many actions you can take that don’t cost a lot of money, but just a little time.

  • Perform a Firewise assessment of your home.
  • Move your firewood pile out of your home’s defensible space.
  • Clean your roof and gutters of leaves and pine needles (best done in October).
  • Clear the view of your house number so it can be easily seen from the street.
  • Put a hose (at least 100 feet long) on a rack and attach it to an outside faucet.
  • Trim all tree branches if they overhang your house.
  • Trim all tree branches from within 20 feet of all chimneys.
  • Inspect power lines on your property for close branches – ask the power company to clear any branches on or close to power lines.
  • Remove trees along the driveway to make it 12 feet wide.
  • Prune branches overhanging the driveway to have 14 feet overhead clearance.
  • Maintain a green lawn for 30 feet around your home. Keep the lawn watered and cut short (3 inches) to prevent tall grass and brush fuels and eliminate fuel that carries fire to your home.
  • If new homes are still being built in your area, talk to the developer and local zoning officials about building standards.
  • Plan and discuss an escape plan with your family. Include your pets. Have a practice drill.
  • Get involved with your community’s disaster mitigation plans.
  • Check your fire extinguishers. Are they still charged? Are they easy to get to in an emergency? Does everyone in the family know where they are and how to use them?
  • Clear deadwood and dense flammable vegetation from your home’s defensible space.
  • Remove conifer shrubs from your home’s defensible space, especially if your home is in a high-risk area.
  • Examine the woods beyond the 30-foot home defensible space up to 100 feet beyond your home. Reduce fuels in this area to reduce the intensity of an approaching wildfire. Trees might need thinning (some may need to be removed) to increase their spacing – this is especially important for evergreens. Pruning the remaining trees up 6 to 10 feet from the ground.
  • Review your homeowner’s insurance policy for adequate coverage. Consult your insurance agent about costs of rebuilding and repairs in your area.
  • Talk to your children about not starting fires or playing with matches.
  • Compost leaves in the fall, don’t burn them.
  • If you burn your brush piles or grass in the spring, check weather and local ordinances.
  • Always have a shovel on hand and hook up the garden hose BEFORE you start the fire.
  • Never burn if the smoke and flames are blowing towards your home (or your neighbor’s home).
  • Make sure recreational fires are made in a fire-safe pit or container and completely extinguished before leaving. Before lighting any outdoor fire, check for local restrictions and permit requirements. Avoid lighting fires when high wind, high temperature, and low humidity are present or predicted.
  • Only dispose of ashes when they are completely cold.
  • Make sure motorized garden equipment, such as lawnmowers and chainsaws, have approved and functioning spark arrestors.
Minimal-Cost Actions ($10 - $25 and a little time)
  • Install highly-visible house numbers (at least 4 inches tall) on your home.
  • Install big, highly-visible house numbers (at least 4 inches tall) at the entrance of the driveway onto the street. Use non-flammable materials and posts.
  • Make sure you have smoke detectors on each floor of your home and check them each fall to make sure they work.
  • Install metal screens on all attic and foundation vents, and other openings on your home to prevent accumulation of leaves and needles.
  • Hold a neighborhood meeting to talk about fire safety. Invite your local fire chief.
  • Install a fire extinguisher in the kitchen and the garage.
  • Install a metal shield between your home and an attached wood fence.
  • Replace conifer and evergreen shrubs with low, less-flammable plants in your home’s defensible space.
  • Use rock and stone landscaping materials next to buildings.
  • Thin and prune conifer trees for 30 to 100 feet around your home.
  • Store gasoline, oily rags, and other flammable materials in approved safety cans. Keep those safety cans in a fire-resistant metal or brick building or garage.
  • Purchase and use a NOAA weather alert radio. Many types of emergencies are announced through this service.
  • Replace vinyl gutters and downspouts with non-flammable, metal gutters and downspouts.
  • Install a spark arrester or heavy wire screen with opening less than ½ inch on wood burning fireplaces and chimneys.
  • Moderate-Cost Actions ($50 – $250 and a little more work)+
  • Build a gravel turn around area near your house big enough to allow a fire truck to turn around.
  • Join your neighbors in having an additional access road into your neighborhood. Share the costs.
  • Treat flammable materials like wood roofs, decks, and siding with fire retardant chemicals.
  • Modify driveway gates to accommodate fire trucks. They should be at least 10 feet wide and set back at least 30 feet from the road. If locked, use a key box approved by your local fire department or use or a chain loop with the lock that can be cut in an emergency.
  • Enclose decks to prevent accumulation of leaves, needles, and debris. Include a metal screen with a 1/8 inch mesh opening to prevent sparks from getting under the deck.
High-Cost Actions (more than $500)
  • Replace your roof with fire-resistant materials such as Class A shingles.
  • Install a roof irrigation system to protect your home’s roof.
  • Install an independent water supply for a sprinkler system with a non-electric (e.g., propane) powered pump capable of running unattended for 24 hours.
  • Replace wood or vinyl siding with non-flammable material (e.g., brick, stone, stucco or steel).
  • Replace single-pane glass windows and plastic skylights with tempered, double-pane glass.
  • Consider installing closable shutters on windows to prevent radiant heat from igniting curtains.
  • Box in eaves, fascias, and soffits with aluminum or steel materials with metal screens to prevent the entry of sparks.
  • Enclose foundations of homes and outbuildings with masonry or steel.
  • Improve driveway culverts and bridges to accommodate the weight of a fire truck (minimum 10,000 pounds).
  • Relocate propane tanks inside the defensible space but at least 10 feet from the house. Have non-flammable ground cover such as gravel around them for 10 feet.
  • Have electric service lines to your house placed underground.
  • Improve your driveway by straightening sharp curves and filling in sharp dips that would hinder a fire truck.

Additional Resources

ImageTitleIDDescriptionContent Typedocument-category_hfilter
Firewise Communities for Virginia
Firewise Communities for VirginiaP00111

Brochure provides important steps to protecting your home and community from wildfire, including firewise landscaping, defensible space, fire-resistant roof and exterior construction, fire-resistant attachments, steps to becoming a firewise community, a disaster plan, defensible space, and emergency access. Printed copies available.

Viewfire-and-emergency-response
Firewise Landscaping Part 1: Overview
Firewise Landscaping Part 1: OverviewViewfire-and-emergency-response
Firewise Landscaping Part 2: Design and Installation
Firewise Landscaping Part 2: Design and InstallationViewfire-and-emergency-response
Firewise Landscaping Part 3: Maintenance
Firewise Landscaping Part 3: MaintenanceViewfire-and-emergency-response
Firewise Virginia Community Hazard Mitigation Grant Application
Firewise Virginia Community Hazard Mitigation Grant Application4.32Viewfinancial-assistance-fire-and-emergency-response fire-and-emergency-response
Home Wildfire Safety Checklist - Is Your Home Firewise?
Home Wildfire Safety Checklist – Is Your Home Firewise?FT0002

Forestry topic information sheet provides a checklist of items to answer about your home to assist in identifying characteristics of your home that may require changes to improve the wildfire safety of your home.

Viewfire-and-emergency-response
Is Your Home Safe from a Wildfire
Is Your Home Safe from a WildfireViewfire-and-emergency-response

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