Hot and dry has been the forecast over the past few days making conditions ripe for outside fires. Outside fires consist of wildland fires, brush fires, crop fires, rubbish fires, arson fires, equipment use fires and mulch fires. They are often started by human activity such as smoking materials and open burning of debris.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, in 2010, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 1,331,500 fires. Of those fires, 48% (634,000) were outside and other fires with
an estimated 304,000 brush, grass and wildland fires and 173,000 rubbish fires resulting in deaths, injuries and direct property loss.
Although 90% of fires are due to human error or carelessness these fires are preventable. Prince William County Department of Fire and Rescue (www.pwcgov.org/fire) suggests the following safety tips in preventing outside fires:
Proper Disposal of Smoking Materials
· DO NOT discard smoking materials such as cigarettes, cigars and lighted matches into mulch laden landscapes, flower beds, shrubs, bushes, grassy areas or woods.
o Protect your home or business by providing an area for individuals to properly extinguish and discard their smoking materials.
· Provide a reasonable amount of space between flammable vegetation and your home or business to create a fire-wise/fire-safe area.
· Avoid using highly combustible plants; use fire resistant plants (visit your local nursery for assistance).
· Remove dead plants, trees and shrubs, wood, debris and low tree branches.
· Keep plants watered during the heat of the summer.
· Remove small trees and plants growing under trees; they permit ground fires to jump into tree crown.
· Regularly, trim grass surrounding your home or business (up to 100 feet).
· Stack firewood at least 30 feet from your home.
· Provide proper clearance to electric devices, e.g., decorative lights.
· Avoid using materials that burn such as wood and use the following:
o Siding – stucco or aluminum siding
o Fences – stone, metal or vinyl
o Decks – stone, masonry, or tile
Additional Safety Tips
Most homes and businesses have exterior water faucets/spouts, purchase a hose(s) that will allow you to not only water your landscape but serve as a fire hose. In the event fire occurs among your landscape, the fire hose will help to saturate the area with water in an attempt to prevent the fire from further spreading to vegetation surrounding your home or business.
If you discover an outside fire, Call 911 Immediately!