Get a Jump on Next Year’s Fire Safety

Tom McMackin 

As you begin this Fall/Winter’s outside chores, it’s a good idea to start planning and do some ground work to be ready for the 2020 fire season. Fall is an excellent time to revisit the ‘defensible space’ concepts that are part of the FireWise and Ready, Set, Go! programs. These fire buffer zones are calculated for the average residential house and are set at 5’/30’/100’ from the foundation wall outward, all the way around a given structure. 

Many normal Fall chores will also help prepare the 0’-5’ Home Ignition Zone, since a shower of embers or sparks is very much like a rain shower: 

  • Start at the peak of your roof. Clear out areas that have squirreled away leaves, twigs and other light fluff, and make repairs to keep drips (or sparks) from penetrating to the inside. 
  • Inspect and clean the stovepipe or chimney system for the coming heating season 
  • Before the roof gets wet with rain or snow, check gutters for condition and function, and clean out anything that has settled there with the season’s change. 
  • On the ground around your home: while you’re clearing up leaves, pine needles and old plantings to keep wet debris from coming inside, consider different plantings or other uses for the area that will create a fire-resistant buffer next to your house. 
  • Make note of any repairs needed to keep leaks (or creeping fire) from contact with the house. 
  • As the wood pile gets used over the winter and cleared from the side of the building, plan a new spot for the wood away from any building contact. 
  • You’ll also have a chance to survey and make a punch list of things to accomplish later in the Firewise 5’ – 30’ Zone! 

Contact me, Tom McMackin, if you’d like more information on the ‘FireWise’ and ‘Ready, Set, Go!’ programs; have comments or suggestions; would like to be more involved with the High Prairie FireWise effort; or want to get connected with the resources we have available as a recognized FireWise Community. Email me at or leave a phone message at 509-365-2786. 

Online FireWise resources: 

FireWise – or wildfire-preparedness/be-firewise/home-and-landscape.aspx 

Ready, Set, Go! – or http://www. 

Useful strategy for listing time and priority tasks for evacuation action:

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