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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Spring Time is Firewise Time in Virginia.

There are simple steps you can take to help reduce the likelihood of your home igniting during a wildfire event. Taking a little time to perform some easy and essential corrective measures can go a long way in making your home fire wise.


Well we made it through another interesting winter here in Virginia. The days are getting longer and warmer, the trees are budding out, flowers are blooming, birds are singing, and the grass is greening up. A sure sign wildfire season is coming to an end HOWEVER its NOT over yet, soon but NOT NOW.

As you make up your Spring to do list please begin with those things that will not only pretty-up your yard but will also make your property FIREWISE.
If your yard is anything like mine, the warmer days surged life back into every rooted organism. The spring surge of life has caused our grasses, trees, and shrubs to grow  very rapidly. This type of vegetation, if left unattended, can pose a serious risk as the season progresses and the days get even hotter causing them to wilt and dry-out. This is a great time to get out, prune back some of the newer growth, and mow those lawns. If your landscaping consists mainly of fallen pine needles or other such material this is a great time to rake that material completely from the first 5 feet surrounding your home, deck - under the deck as well, barn or any other building.

As you get out in your yard check for the effects (broken branches, leaves and dead limbs) of winter storms. By taking some time to remove this type of material you are reducing the risk of fire spread for yourself and neighbors. If you are in an area where burning is permitted be sure to make sure that it is a burn day by calling your local fire department or local forestry office. OBEY all local and state laws and restrictions. here are the main laws that will affect you ..
  • Cost Recovery for Fire Protection § 10.1-1141 Liability and recovery of cost of fighting forest fires
  • 4 p.m. Burning Law § 10.1-1142 Regulating the burning of woods, brush, etc.; penalties l
  • Throwing inflammatory objects from vehicle on highway while in or near certain lands § 10.1-1143
  • Rewards for information leading to conviction of arsonists or incendiaries § 10.1-1138

 Click here to go to a list of all forestry laws including additional outdoor burning laws.  and to use great caution when burning as many large fires have been started by unattended burn piles. These materials can be composted (if they are small enough) , chipped or used to create beneficial wildlife brush piles.
Remember to focus on potential ignition sources on your house. Start with your roof and move your way down. Remove flammable debris from your roof and gutters as this could ignite by firebrands during a fire. Check all of your vents and make sure that they are covered with at least a ¼ inch metal mesh to help reduce the likelihood of a firebrand entering your home. Remove flammable material from exterior window seals and other areas where winter weather has caused deposition of such material, this includes decks, fences and the base of the structure. This work can be done fairly fast but be sure to spend some extra time checking inconspicuous locations that could put your home in danger if flammable material was left there.

Landscaping work, its hard work but can be enjoyable and very rewarding. Have fun planting all the beautiful plants, fruits, and vegetables that will create a beautiful landscape for all to enjoy. Be sure to use Firewise plant choices when planting next to your home. You want plants surrounding your home to be very fire resistant and well irrigated. For recommended Firewise plants to use in your area you could contact your local Forestry Office the local Extension Office or your local Master Gardeners. Remember that you could have a landscape that is both appealing and Firewise by making the right vegetative choices.

Fire affects us all and does not discriminate or stop at property lines. We need to work together as communities and neighbors in order to protect ourselves. A community that works together will thrive and survive together. So let's be good stewards of the land and our community and get out into our yards and do our Firewise work. And don't be afraid to ask your neighbor if they need help while you are at it. A community is made up of good people looking out for each other and come fire season this is more important than ever. If you have any questions about the Firewise program please visit


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