Is Your Home Firewise?

It may seem odd to talk about wildfire safety in February, since the wildfire season usually begins in the summer. But the beautiful snow we’ve been enjoying this winter will feed plant growth in the spring, and more plant growth means more fuel for potential fires later in the summer.

The wildfire season of 2018 was estimated to be the worst in 15 years. Wildfires destroy property, contaminate watersheds, and worst of all, can take lives. What can property owners do to avoid a repeat of last summer’s disasters?


The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has a program called Firewise USA® that “teaches people how to adapt to living with wildfire and encourages neighbors to work together and take action now to prevent losses.”

Please visit their website at for detailed information on what you can do to minimize the risk to your home. The following information comes from the NFPA’s brochure “How to Have a Firewise® Home.”

Firewise landscaping

Clear an “ignition zone” around your home.

  • Remove leaves and needles from your roof and deck.
  • Create a fuel-free perimeter about 3-5 feet around your home.
  • From 5-30’ or more, thin vegetation, remove dead leaves and needles, and prune shrubs and trees.
  • Clear debris and vegetation around decks, sheds, fences, and swings.

Trim landscaping and choose firewise plants. 

  • Trim branches so they are at least 6-10’ from the ground.
  • Make sure organic mulch is at least 5’ away from structures.
  • Choose firewise plants (without resins, oils, and waxes); find lists at or from the local Cooperative Extension service.

Plan for emergencies

Create a disaster plan.

  • Prepare, discuss, and practice an emergency action plan for everyone in your home, including animals.
  • Know two ways out of your neighborhood and have an emergency meeting place.

Make emergency access easy.

  • Make sure your address is clearly marked for emergency responders.

Firewise construction

  • Use fire-rated shingles and a fire-resistant sub-roof, if possible.
  • Make sure roof and attic vents are screened to prevent ember entry.
  • Make sure decks, porches, and fences are fire-resistant.
  • Use fire-resistant siding such as brick, fiber-cement, plaster, or stucco and tempered or double-paned glass windows.