Firewise Practices Mitigate Wildfire Threat

Tom McMackin


Summer’s arrival and the posting of Klickitat County ‘Burn Ban’ signs signal the start of high wildland fire potential and homeowner sleepless nights. The threat isn’t a predetermination of casualty to house, home and property. Ideally, we’ve had the opportunity to work around the driveway, house, shop and barn to prepare for the fire incident that can be expected at any time in our neighborhood. Evacuation is a real possibility for the safety of residents and firefighters when a wildfire starts. 

There are effective actions we can take to mitigate risk and prepare our properties for surviving a High Prairie wildfire by implementing principles from the national Firewise and ‘Ready, Set, Go!’ programs. These programs are designed to address the challenges and hard facts of experiencing a fire event as a resident in a boundary area of wild lands and human activity like ours. 

Fire’s attack on a structure primarily comes from fire carried to it along the ground or lofted through the air by showers of burning embers settling on it. ‘Structure’, for example, would be your house (shop, barn, etc.) + the deck + the wooden fence that attaches to it. The area around structures is the ‘Home Ignition Zone’. This zone consists of 3 bands from base of the building outward [0-5’ 5’-30’ 30’-100’]. There is still time to make a real wildfire difference with common sense, a little effort and taking a small, focused approach starting today. 

• Firewise & Ready – Clear away the fire catchers! – [0-5’] Start at the house (+deck + fence) – from the peak of the roof down look for things that might catch a firebrand and give it fuel to burn: leaves & pine needles, construction debris from a project, stacked cordwood or winter-killed shrubs or plantings in beds against the wall, tall grass around and up to the walls, etc. Then keep this band ‘green’ by watering trimmed grass and plantings. 

• Set & Go ! – Assemble supplies & create list(s) – Get Set by thinking about and preparing to leaving home in an evacuation, or to be self-sustaining for at least 72 hours, and creating written lists of critical things to remember as you are leaving. Consider creating ‘to do’ timed checklists of steps to remember as you evacuate. Prepackage clothing, sundries, water and food items in a backpack or portable container(s) that can be easily loaded into your car so that you can leave quickly if the evacuation order is given or a wildfire is coming across the field and knocking at your door. Do not hesitate to ‘Go !’ immediately, being able to load family and pets in your rig and heading to safety. 

These first steps are keys that will make the safety of you and your family a priority and will give your property defensible space to assist firefighters. Expanding the zones of protection and adding comfort items to your assembled supplies can naturally follow as you build on these first efforts to be Firewise and Ready, Set to go! 

For more information on the ‘Firewise’ & ‘Ready, Set, Go!’ programs contact Tom McMackin by email at or by phone message by calling 509-365-2786. 

Online resources: 

Firewise – or

Ready, Set, Go! – or

^ Top

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.