Com­mu­nity Aware­ness

Catron Courier - - Opinions & Editorial - By Sher Brown

March 30 – April 5, 2014 is South­west Wild­fire Aware­ness Week. This year’s theme is: Where We Live, How We Live, Liv­ing with Wild­fire. The fo­cus of the week is to in­crease aware­ness and pro­mote ac­tions that re­duce the risk from wild­fire to homes and com­mu­ni­ties.

Wild­fire is a nat­u­ral oc­cur­rence. The forests and the grass­lands need fire to re­vi­tal­ize. It’s easy to let na­ture take its course when there are no homes in­volved. It’s a dif­fer­ent mat­ter when there are homes in or near wild­lands. Whether you live on a ranch, in a devel­op­ment, or in town, every­one in Ca­tron County lives in a Wild­land Ur­ban In­ter­face. We’ve cho­sen to live here. With that choice comes the re­spon­si­bil­ity to pro­tect our homes.

Sev­eral com­mu­ni­ties in Ca­tron County have cho­sen to be­come FireWise Com­mu­ni­ties. This means home­own­ers within the com­mu­nity have made the ef­fort to trim their trees and cre­ate de­fen­si­ble space around their homes. If your com­mu­nity isn’t al­ready FireWise, now is the time to start tak­ing ac­tion.

Use the ex­cuse of Wild­fire Aware­ness Week to start talk­ing to your neigh­bors about a plan to make your neigh­bor­hood bet­ter able to with­stand a wild­fire. Per­haps you can have a work day where neigh­bors help neigh­bors get the job done. A word of cau­tion re­gard­ing slash. Some peo­ple choose to throw slash into ar­royos or canyons—places “out of sight.” This can be very danger­ous if there is a wild­fire. Winds tend to run up canyons, cre­at­ing chim­neys. With slash in the path, it could cause ex­treme fire be­hav­ior. The county chip­per and a few friends can make quick work of a slash pile.

If you’re adding to your land­scap­ing, con­sider FireWise plants. There are nu­mer­ous lists on­line. Even more im­por­tant than the plant se­lec­tion is keep­ing the plants you do have wa­tered and well main­tained. If you use mulch, make sure that any mulch near the house is not flammable.

This is also a good time to take a walk around your house. Pay at­ten­tion to any place wind -blown de­bris col­lects. These are the same places where air­borne em­bers will col­lect if there is a nearby wild­fire. Now that the weather is warm­ing up, it’s time to take the fire wood off the porch and stack it a safe dis­tance from the house.

Take a look around your prop­erty. Have you ac­cu­mu­lated “trea­sures” that might in­ter­fere with ef­forts to pro­tect your home? Can a big red truck even get onto your prop­erty, and is there space for it to turn around? Is your sep­tic tank marked so trucks won’t col­lapse it and get stuck?

Es­cape routes are a big con­cern for fire fight­ers when eval­u­at­ing whether they can de­fend a home dur­ing a wild­fire.

Is your home at risk? If you are un­cer­tain, call your lo­cal fire de­part­ment. Some­one can come out and help you as­sess your home and prop­erty. If you do ev­ery­thing you can to cre­ate de­fen­si­ble space and “fire proof” your home, are you guar­an­teed that your house will sur­vive a wild­fire? Ab­so­lutely not, but it does im­prove your chances.

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