“Be Wise, Be Very Wise, Be Firewise”
A slogan adopted by several states and many communities throughout the country as part of an outreach and awareness effort to educate residents of the benefits of wildfire preparedness.
Wildfire planning and preparedness is at the core of a new national initiative -The Firewise Communities/USA program. This effort, sponsored by the National Wildfire Coordinating Group, is designed to facilitate and provide information and resources to towns, municipalities, developments and communities that need to adopt long-term, proactive solutions to protect homes and natural resources from the risk of wildland fire.
In addition to working closely with communities to achieve these few simple steps to enrollment, the NJ Forest Fire Service will also assist communities in obtaining grant funding to implement firewise concepts, and wildfire prevention and education events.
Agencies and organizations responsible for wildland fire management agree: we can reduce the loss of lives, property, and damage to natural resources from wildfire, by building and maintaining communities that are compatible with their natural surroundings.
There is no single solution, however, to achieving this common goal. The Firewise Communities/USA concept is successful because it emphasizes local decision-making and encourages community representatives, including homeowners to develop their own plan for achieving a set of common goals. In general, the most successful wildfire mitigation programs are driven by the individuals that will benefit most from their efforts; the residents.
The concept of the home ignition zone was developed by retired USDA Forest Service fire scientist Jack Cohen in the late 1990s, following some breakthrough experimental research into how homes ignite due to the effects of radiant heat. The HIZ is divided into three zones.
The home and the area 0-5’ from the furthest attached exterior point of the home; defined as a non-combustible area. Science tells us this is the most important zone to take immediate action on as it is the most vulnerable to embers. START WITH THE HOUSE ITSELF then move into the landscaping section of the Immediate Zone.
5-30’ from the furthest exterior point of the home. Landscaping/hardscaping- employing careful landscaping or creating breaks that can help influence and decrease fire behavior
30-100 feet, out to 200 feet. Landscaping – the goal here is not to eliminate fire but to interrupt fire’s path and keep flames smaller and on the ground.
*The distances listed for crown spacing are suggested based on NFPA 1144. However, the crown spacing needed to reduce/prevent crown fire potential could be significantly greater due to slope, the species of trees involved and other site specific conditions. Check with your local forestry professional to get advice on what is appropriate for your property.
For more information on Firewise Communities USA visit www.firewise.org.
NJ Firewise Communities Liaison
New Jersey Forest Fire Service
Department of Environmental Protection