See Fire Force.
The proximity of rural homes to roads and railroads, the owners working "away" from them, the surroundings of homes with beautiful trees and pastures all together create situations easily recognized as hazardous for fires. Lightning fires are very abundant and nightly TV presentations of western US area lightning fires show devastated families, businesses and the beauty of the forests and rangelends. About 8.4 million new homes have been built near fire-prone federal lands in the past 20 years. We realize from fire histories that homeowners are at great risks of wildfires and that new residents, expanding from city edges and buying summer homes and hunting lodges also buy (rarely fully appreciated) high risks and responsibilities that come with living in the trees. Many chose to live in very fire-prone areas.
See sketches and information on fire prevention in the Villages planning document.
Rural System (plans to offer/offers) offers a free homesite assessment for the threats of wildfire, a free plan, and offers of custom service to implement and then follow the items of the plan. It has a message that one-time work will not provide the desired safety and reduced wildfire hazards.
We present to the owner(s) of the property the fire hazards on property, detail what could be done to survive and reduce the effects of a fire on the site.
We know that homeowners are reluctant, so the sale of the danger and the risk is difficult.
We work with insurance companies to develop provisional policies, i.e., if the owner engages our plan and services, the fire insurance rate is notable reduced.
Owners are leery of having their trees near the house removed. They are there for beauty and energy conservation purposes. We phase the changes to reduce the impact on the users as well as to spread the costs. Depending on tree location, they can create major fire hazzard conditions.
We describe defensible space and analyze the fire potentials of trees, grasses and shrubs, and other items such as fuel storage.
|homeowners need to visit Firewise.org and to clean out their gutters, sweep off the roof, get the wood away from the house, put screens on the gables and underpinnings so sparks and embers can't get there, water their lawns so they have a good green grass lawn around the house, and clear the brush and the limbs away from the house. Make sure there's no dead trees in striking distance of the house.|
We may recommend and install under contract lightning rods.
We work to build buffers and have them planted and easily maintained in the most suitable plants and materials.
We encourage construction and remodeling to develop fire resistant buildings.
We in Rural System employ signs and ads, make home visits and present lectures and use other means to market this fire-damage reduction message.
We are aware of official studies that report that many homeowners aren't taking measures to protect their homes against the threat. Federal and state funds have been made available but they are limited, the procedures dufficult, and there is no sustained action. We offer free advice, potentials for self-improvement of sites, and an option for those unable or uninterested in the initial work of fire-damage prevention and reduction, then continuing maintenance of those features. We are aware of the the time and money required of to thin trees or replace wood-shingled roofs, to clean up debris that is fuel, and the changes that often must be made to the land's aesthetics.
New owners of rural lands do not seem to know or refuse to face the risk and costs of how fires could ignite homes. Unlike urban fire prevention, the fire risk tends to be singular and isolated and group activity is rarely needed. Special attention is needed for some sites that may likely ignite and spread fire to other homes.
Rural System's motives are for the health and safety of people and their homes. Their secondary motives are ecological (i.e., the undesirable effects of wildfires on soil, water, wild fauna and plants) near homes. Land shaping, trail building, and debris management can often aid in over-all land management objectives. Their energetic motive if that of a new balance in plants and their placement to improve home heating and cooling while not creating a fire hazard. Financial motives are those from insurance, secondary marketing and extended services, the value of removed products, the placement of flame resistant roofs, and land maintenance contracts (e.g., water storage, mowing, arboriculture) and viewscape analyses. Rural System analyzes and presents its community values in reduced losses to the tax base, reduced costs of fire prevention and control, reduced lost time and wages, reduced community assistance costs, reduced fire calls, reduced real estate value loss, reduced death, reduced air quality.
After fires do occur, TV presentations are developed to aid in offering Rural System assistance and encouraging maintenance of the re-developed preventative measures. Fire thought needs to be standard for the rural home owner, especially those at the wildland-urban interface and specifically:
Ignition of other properties such as farm equipment, out-buildings, garden, orchards, etc. have to be specifically addressed.
Presently, gaining government fire damage funds for home owners is difficult (comment: Wilderness Society's Lisa Gregory), matching funds are needed, communities aren't assured of federal cost-share grants, funds each state gets for projects can vary widely, and there have been abuses.
These are their vacation homes, and they don't want to work on their vacations ... and it is work
Notes from USDA to be added. See also FireWise
Perhaps you will share ideas with me about some of the topic(s) above .
Robert H. Giles, Jr.
July 3, 2005