Fire is critical to the survival of healthy forest ecosystems. However, decades of fire suppression have resulted in an unnatural accumulation of fuel, resulting in more intense flames, increased risk to firefighters, and higher expenses and property losses.
Prescribed fires are a necessary part of forest management that can reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires. They can also create or maintain habitat for wildlife. But due to concerns about public safety and the impact on the environment, many national forests and grasslands have limited access to providers of fire suppression services.
Who is at risk from fire suppression? People living in close proximity to forests are at risk because they cannot be safely evacuated in the event of a wildfire. Farmers who use fire to control weeds and insects are at risk because these practices decrease the amount of fuel available for future fires. Landowners who allow their land to go untended so it can burn during large wildfires may not be able to be reimbursed by insurance companies for lost crops and other damages. The list goes on and on.
Why is fire prevention important? Fire prevention is important because it protects people's lives, property, and natural resources. Without prevention measures, wildfires would continue to spread and cause more damage than what we can recover from.
Wildfires can be prevented from spreading into populated areas by removing vegetation that could act as fuel for the fire.
The two fundamental measures in avoiding forest fires are risk reduction and hazard reduction. Hazard is decreased by dividing a forest with firebreaks (alleyways with no vegetation) and minimizing fuel accumulation (litter, branches, fallen trees, etc.) by managed burning. Risk is decreased by public education on the dangers of smoking in forests and prevention from lighting fires.
Forest fires are usually prevented through hazard reduction. There are several methods used by firefighters to reduce the danger of wildfire: burnout - the process of removing all traces of fire from an area; containment - keeping the fire within designated boundaries; and exclusion - preventing anyone outside of an area being burned from returning inside the perimeter.
Forest fires can be controlled through risk reduction as well. Firefighters may conduct prescribed burns to reduce the amount of flammable material in forests and increase the survival rate of young trees. Smokey the Bear's famous campaign promotes fire safety by warning people not to play with fire. The slogan "Only you can prevent forest fires" highlights this fact.
In conclusion, fire prevention includes reducing the amount of fuel available for combustion and increasing the distance between combustible materials. This can be done through hazard reduction - using fire breaks to divide large areas into smaller ones and removing any flammable material such as grass or litter around homes - and risk reduction - using defensible space around buildings and clear cutting of overgrown trees.
Controlled burning can be used to lessen the severity and size of wildfires by limiting the accumulation of combustible materials. Wildfires endanger human safety, wreak havoc on forest and ecosystem health, and wreak havoc on air quality. The best defense against wildfire is prevention - keeping your yard clear of fuel-that's any material that will burn.
Many factors determine how a fire starts, but most start with something as small as a spark. If you're living in an area where fires are a threat, keep your brush away from your house and use the "three square feet or less" rule: no matter what type of plant is growing in your yard, have someone else plant trees or shrubs that are more fire-resistant. This way if something does catch fire, it will be extinguished quickly before spreading beyond its control.
Firefighters use many tools to contain and extinguish wildfires. One tool they use often is called "burnout." This involves using large quantities of water to douse hot spots or smoldering areas until they go out. This prevents smaller flare-ups after major fires have been put out.
Controlling vegetation around your home should be done by a professional landscaper who has access to appropriate equipment, but there are some simple things you can do yourself.