Fall is the ideal season for success in protecting your structures from wildland fire losses

Although spring is usually thought of as “wildfire season” throughout Michigan, it is in the fall when homeowners can be most effective in protecting their structures from potential wildfire losses.

Spring, just following the snow melt but before vegetation greens up, is the most active wildfire period for most years in Michigan. Because of the lack of use, or in many cases, access to camps and cottages in the winter, many owners won’t be visiting their country estates until after this fire season has passed.

To be effective in better protecting their buildings from wildland fire loss it is that last visit in the fall or through the deer hunting season that pro-active measures need to be implemented to help prevent losses the following fire season.

National Firewise guidelines which are based on real situational successes suggest a defensible area of at least 30 feet be established around all structures. Fuel reduction is the goal in this home ignition zone area with the removal of as much combustible material as is possible being recommended.

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Some responsible practices should include
  • Clearing all dead leaves and needles from eves, valleys and any other roof areas
  • Raking dead grass, needles and leaves at least 30 feet away from the foundation of all buildings
  • Stack that leftover firewood outside the defensible zone
  • Prune all trees but particularly conifers so branches with needles or leaves are 6 feet to 10 feet off the ground
  • Move any portable LP gas cylinders outside the defensible zone area for winter storage.
  • Installing or inspecting cap screen on chimney openings
  • Remove dead vegetation from under decks or outside stairs

Michigan State University Extension  bulletin E2831 “Protect Your Michigan Home from Wildfire” provides a more detailed comprehensive list of practices and maintenance strategies for anyone interested in better protecting their structures. Summer cottages, seasonal camps or year around homes can all be better protected through application of these suggested activities.

For those interested in safer Firewise landscaping, Extension Bulletin E2948 “Wildfire-resistant Landscape Plants for Michigan” is a good resource for selecting the correct landscape plants to place around your cabins and homes. When you hear about a wildfire near your ownership on the evening news it will be too late or unsafe for any kind of response. Now is the time for action with regards to protecting your properties from wildfire losses.

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