On Call: Wildfire Video Series
The following video series looks at the four essential steps to combating wildfires. Interviews of responders to the 2011 wildfires and video of those fires show viewers the importance of preventing wildfire. The series also highlights how homeowners and communities can prepare for when wildfire occurs and how they can better respond and recover from wildfire. This series on wildfires was produced within the regular series "On Call", which airs on Travis County’s government access TV channel, TCTV-17.
- On Call Wildfire Video: Prevention
- On Call Wildfire Video: Preparedness
- On Call Wildfire Video: Response
- On Call Wildfire Video: Recovery
Saving Lives and Property through Advance Planning
It's not a question of if, but when the next major wildland fire will occur. Through advance planning, understanding and preparation, we can all be partners in the wildland fire solution. We hope you find these tips helpful in creating heightened awareness and a more fire-safe environment for you, your family and firefighters.
The Ready, Set, Go! booklet will teach you how to protect property from wildland fires and what steps you can take to insure safety if an evacuation is ordered.
During 2011, Travis County suffered through one of the worst droughts and heat waves on record. The record heat and lack of rain caused vegetation to die and dry out and also killed many trees. This particular weather pattern set the stage for a very dangerous fire season.
On September 4, 2011, a tropical depression made landfall in Louisiana leaving Travis County on the dry side of the storm but subject to the high winds associated with the storm. The result was six major fire starts that consumed close to 7,000 acres and destroyed 57 homes.
Our neighbors to the south were also affected. Bastrop County had a huge fire that burned more than 34,000 acres and destroyed more than 1,500 homes. September 4, 2011, went down on record as the worst fire day in recent history for Central Texas.
Travis County, along with other stakeholders, formed the Wild Land Taskforce to look at steps to take to avoid another scenario like September 4, 2011. One of the first tasks is to promote public education material that homeowners can use to protect themselves and their property. The Ready, Set, Go! document was created by the Wild Land Taskforce to provide individuals with ways to protect property and steps to take to insure safety if an evacuation is ordered.
While this is a very important step, the Wild Land Task Force is looking at other ways to provide information for residents of Travis County on dealing with wild fires, such as developing a Community Wildfire Protection Plan and applying for grants to deal with fuel mitigation efforts.
Wildfire Preparedness Check List
The more "yes" answers you have, the more prepared you are in the event of a wildfire threat.
- Fire-resistant roof i.e. metal, tile, composition?
- Non-flammable siding materials?
- Home is located down-slope?
- Wooden deck facing or overhanging level ground?
- Large glass windows, facing level ground?
- Deck, porch, vents or house screened to keep sparks out?
- Chimney extending above the roofline?
- Chimney spark arrester in place?
- Roof and gutters clean of debris?
- A fire defensible space (D-space) zone of 30 – 100 ft?
- Adequate clearance of weeds, tall grasses and brush?
- Leaves raked?
- Trees pruned 10 ft up from base of trunk?
- Debris cleared from beneath trees and near structures?
- Tree limbs pruned at least 10 ft from roof or within 15 ft laterally from chimney?
- House location or address clearly marked (3 inch letters)?
- Small amounts of mulch used near wooden structures?
- Firewood and other burnable items stored at least 30 ft from the house?
- Easy access to home by emergency vehicles?
- Road grade less than 15% (not steep)?
- Road wide and accommodating to two-way traffic?
- Road straight with wide turns?
- Large areas for vehicles to turn around?
- Short driveway from main road?
- Home area level and easily plowed or raked for fire line?
- Multiple roads into and out of developed area for safe and easy access and evacuation?
- Pressurized hydrants available?
- Non-pressurized or dry hydrants available?
- Water sources such as ponds or streams accessible?
- Power lines buried and not susceptible to fire?
- Well pumps maintained with uninterrupted electricity?
Preparing for a Wildfire
- Cut grass and weeds, rake leaves and pine needles and remove yard debris and branches.
- Relocate woodpile and left over building materials at least 30’ from house.
NOTE: It is best to not locate the woodpile directly uphill or downhill of any structure.
- Signs, address and access are well marked, and visible both night and day. Reflective numbering/lettering that is 3” or larger is recommended.
- Prune dead and low-hanging tree limbs 6 to 10 feet from the ground around house. Remove all dead vegetation in brush and shrubbery.
- Store all gas, oil and other chemicals away from the house. This includes propane tanks on BBQ pits.
- Keep roof and gutters free from leaves and needles.
- Enclose spaces under porches, decks, foundations and overhangs, and roof/attic vent openings with 1/8” metal screening.
- Have garden hoses connected on all sides of your house.
- Place tools (such as ladders, shovels, rakes and hoes) for easy access to fire fighters.
- Check driveway for adequate clearance for emergency vehicles. (Both height and width).