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Humboldt County Fire Safe Council

Posted on: July 12, 2022

Wildfire Season is Here: Help us help you prepare


Wildfire Season is Here!

Help Us Help You Prepare

Are you struggling to prepare your home and property to survive the impacts of wildfire? Do you need support to manage wildfire prone vegetation (hazardous fuels) around your home, along your access routes, or in strategic locations on your property?

  • Some Humboldt County Fire Safe Council member organizations and agencies have received or are in the process of seeking grant funds to support services for people like you. The more we know about your needs, the easier it will be to connect you to services under existing programs and make the case for securing more funding to expand services.
  • Examples of active programs that you might be eligible for include, the Fire-adapted Landscapes And Safe Homes Program (FLASH) and direct defensible space assistance for priority populations like people who fall into a low income bracket, are over the age of 65, and/or are unable to perform manual labor due to a disability. You could also be connected with local fire safe councils that run volunteer chipper programs or offer fuels reduction crews for hire.
  • For assistance filling out the form, call (707) 296-1498 or email the FSC Coordinator.

Ember Resistant Zone: Science Becomes Law

Informed by UCANR's Preparing Your Home for Wildfire Webpage

So, you have your defensible space prepped this year; you’ve weed whipped (again!), pruned, piled and burned, so you’re done right? Not quite!

Historically, defensible space recommendations have focused on preventing direct flame contact with structures by maintaining 100 feet of “defensible space”. While this is critical, it glosses over a key factor in how wildfires threaten homes: embers. Contrary to popular belief, oftentimes embers compromise a structure long before the main front of the wildfire ever arrives.

Consider this photo (UCANR):

Notice anything peculiar? The home is lost but the vegetation is still green; this is likely because embers, not direct flame contact, caused the home to burn from the inside out.
Recent research has shown that the 0-5 foot area adjacent to your house is the most important in the survivability of your home. Embers are ignition experts, especially when it comes to dead plant material, even your mulch! Current recommendations are to remove as much vegetation and combustible ground cover as possible, leaving only small non-woody plants widely spaced with non-combustible ground cover in between. These may seem like drastic measures, but walk around your home and ask yourself: how easily could this catch fire, and when it does, what else is it going to catch? If the answers are anywhere close to “pretty easily” and “that big bush right next to the wall”, then it really needs to go. Attached wooden structures like fences, lattice and arbors can act like the wick of a candle, drawing flames to the home. Shrubs, especially oily ones like rosemary and juniper, further threaten your home. Your wood piles, stacks of building materials, shade umbrellas, and yard clutter are also vulnerable to ignition from embers.

Fortunately, the 0-5 foot ember resistant zone is easy to maintain once established, and also makes your home more resistant to water damage in the winter months!

Not only will an ember resistant zone increase the chance your home would survive a wildfire, but it will soon be required by law. Assembly Bill 3074, passed into law in 2020, requires a third zone for defensible space [in addition to the two currently required by Public Resource Code 4291]. This law requires the Board of Forestry and Fire Protection to develop the regulation for a new ember-resistant zone (Zone 0) within 0 to 5 feet of the home by January 1, 2023 (CAL FIRE).

Fire preparation is vitally important for your home, for your neighbors’ homes, and your local fire department; make sure you’ve done all you can each fire season! In addition to CAL FIRE, a great source for preparation information is the UC Cooperative Extension; they thoroughly research and explain why each step matters. Their recommendations are backed by data and emphasize proper care and maintenance over expensive retrofits (though a new Class A roof is a good idea!).

Upcoming Events

August 18, 10-12pm: HCFSC Quarterly Meeting
The next HCFSC meeting will be held virtually, August 18, 2022 from 10 am - 12:00 pm. Sign-up for Notify Me to receive text or email notifications when meeting materials are available from the Fire Safe Council or visit the Agenda Center prior to the meeting.

What will you do to prepare?

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