Getting Firewise in the Flume by F A B President John Van Doren
Wilder than WildAugust 2018
As wildfires continue to rage this summer and last, several new apocalyptic terms have entered our wildfire lexicon:
Over the years the number of fires has not changed that much, but the size, behavior, and destructive power of wildfires has definitely changed. The reasons are many but over a hundred years of active and very successful fire suppression have exponentially increased our forest fuel loads. As we took fire out of our forest ecosystems we also began moving into the forest and built homes to standards wholly unsuited to an environment of wildfire ember showers. Think shake roofs, cedar siding, and softwood decks.
Added to that powder keg mix of dense forest fuels and flammable homes is the accelerating amplifier of a changing climate. Our warming climate makes for a longer fire season, reduced snow packs, lower humidity, higher day and nighttime temperatures, and nastier winds. Hence the new apocalyptic terms. Go figure.
Here in the Bailey area, it is just a matter of time before the stars align and we have our own major event. But even without fire in our local landscape, the smoke hanging in our valleys from other far off fires is a constant reminder that our time is coming.
As I speak to and with people in our community, it’s clear that there is a growing awareness of the risk of wildfire and the need to become both better prepared and better informed.
Toward that end Fire Adapted Bailey is sponsoring a community educational event on Saturday September 8th from 2-4 p.m. at PCFPD’s (Delwood) Station 2. We will be screening the 1-hour wildfire documentary Wilder than Wild after which the U.S. Forest Service will present what is being done on our surrounding public lands to reduce the risk of wildfire in collaboration with Platte Canyon Fire Protection District’s work on our own private lands. Much is being done and much more is in the works. This promises to be an entertaining and very informative event.
Wildfire Preparedness – Decks July 2018
When it comes to wildfires, it’s not the flame front that gets us, it’s the ember cast from the fire that often finds our homes more receptive than the surrounding trees. This is especially true of our decks. During the infamous Hayman fire, firefighters actually ran ahead of the fire and cut vulnerable decks away from homes using chainsaws.
Embers can fly in from a mile or more away and our softwood decks present a perfectly receptive horizontal surface for embers to collect and first ignite the deck and then our wood sided exterior walls. Fortunately, there are some simple steps we can take to reduce the probability of our decks igniting.
When a wildfire threatens, remove combustible materials such as seat cushions, door mats, etc. inside. Move propane tanks away from the home. This is also a good idea if you plan to be away from your home for an extended period of time.
Do not store any combustible material (firewood, ATV’s, lawn mowers, trash containers) under your deck.
Routinely remove debris (pine needles etc.) between deck boards and at the intersection between the deck and house. Fire tends to propagate best along the gaps between the deck boards.
When it’s time to replace your deck, choose a Class A composite or pressure impregnated wood material. Space boards ¼” apart so that most embers will fall through.
If your deck boards are not rated Class A consider replacing the first 2 or 3 boards adjacent to the home with matching Class A composite or wood boards.
For more information about wildfire preparedness for your home or business go to www.fireadaptedbailey.org
Wildfire Smoke June 2018 A major wildfire event in the Bailey/Conifer area is always a matter of probability. Low in wet years and higher in dry years. Low in the near term and very high in the long term. However, the probability that we will need to cope with wildfire smoke either from a front range fire or even a large fire in a nearby state is almost a certainty during every wildfire season.
Here are some guidelines to follow when smoke is in the air:
Reduce or avoid physical activity. This is especially important for children, older adults, pregnant women, and those with heart or respiratory disease.
Drink plenty of liquids to keep respiratory membranes moist.
Stay indoors and take steps to keep your indoor air as clean as possible. Keep windows and doors shut. Avoid frying meat, and using your gas stove or fireplace. Don’t use spray aerosols or candles. Don’t vacuum.
Consider leaving the area if air quality is very poor.
Protect yourself with respirator masks rated N95 or N100 and certified by NIOSH. Follow the instructions and use both straps. FYI, paper painter and surgical masks are NOT effective.
Avoid driving if possible. If you do drive keep the windows closed and run your AC on recirculate. However, open your vents periodically to prevent CO2buildup, which can cause drowsiness.
Call your veterinarian if your pets or livestock show signs of distress.