Custer, SD – As warmer weather approaches, fire officials say now is the time to take steps to make your home Firewise.
The Firewise Communities Program works to recognize and motivate communities to take action to protect their homes and natural surroundings from catastrophic fire by creating or improving survivable space. By applying Firewise practices, homeowners can take action to reduce the risk of losing their homes and property to wildfires without fire department intervention.
“There are several Firewise practices that can be used in your own backyard for little money,” said Andy Tate, Wildland Urban Interface Specialist with South Division of Wildland Fire. “Tree thinning on and around your property, using construction materials on your home that are fire-resistant or noncombustible, and clearing dead wood and dense vegetation at least 30 feet from your home are just a few ways that you can help protect your property.”
Officials say early preparation is the key and urge homeowners to take measures now before fires start. “If dry conditions persist, the potential exists for an active fire season to start early and continue late through the summer,” said Todd Pechota, Black Hills National Forest Fire Management Officer. “Now is the time for homeowners to prepare themselves and protect their homes from the continued risk of wildfire.”
A few tips are below for homeowners to reduce the risk of their homes and property becoming fuel for a wildfire – many more can be found at the Great Plains Fire Safe Council and Firewise websites. (http://www.firewise.org, http://www.gpfiresafecouncil.com)
A comprehensive Firewise tips checklist for homeowners is also available on the Firewise website. More in-depth information can be found on the Great Plains Fire Safe Council website including home maintenance tips, construction material suggestions, and recommended plant lists.
Most of the techniques to increase the chances of your home surviving a wildfire without fire department intervention can be accomplished with a weekend of work and little to no cost. Now is the time to take action, not when smoke is in the air.
To schedule a home assessment and discuss available cost-share programs contact Andrew Tate with the South Dakota Wildland Fire Division at 605-394-2584 or Tim Weaver with the Rapid City Fire Department at 605-394-5233.