As of Tuesday, May 1, 2018
Is it May already? Spring is nearly through, and summer – pending a few more Idaho County snow showers — is nearly here. What also can sneak up on us is wildfire season and preparing our properties to minimize risk.
It’s not a question whether this would be a good idea or not; it’s critical to start the season with plans, followed by action, to fireproof your home and properties as best you can. Its importance is marked each year when the 10 western governors proclaim May as Wildfire Awareness Month.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, an average 334,200 brush, grass and forest fires are responded to by local fire departments in the U.S. per year – about 915 per day. An average of 32,200 fires per year occurred at one- or two-family homes.
What’s the major cause of these fires? Our common belief is these are most often due to fireworks, lightning, or problems with power lines or operating equipment. Interestingly enough, each of these accounts for 4 percent. In reality, intentionally set fires account for 20 percent (one in five), 16 percent were due to hot embers or ash, and 14 percent due to outside fires for debris or waste disposal.
That’s a lot of numbers, but it gets down to simply that wildfire – especially in our neck of the woods – is a recurring event we need to treat with respect and prepare for. How that happens is up to you, and there are state and federal agencies – for starters, Idaho Department of Lands, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management – who are happy to get you information to get you started: for example — clearing and cleaning your properties, providing sufficient access points for emergency equipment, and where your escape routes are. Check with your rural fire district for help, as well as join with neighbors to fireproof your communities.
It’s all commonsense stuff, but with all we have going on within our families and communities these days, we all need a reminder now and then to refresh us on our pressing tasks.
“It takes a ‘team’ to battle wildfires and we want everyone to be a part of this team,” said Michael Morcom, BLM Idaho state fire management officer. “It is vital that we work with our community partners and local fire departments. This only serves to strengthen our fire force in Idaho.”