Homeowners need to adopt measures to protect their property from wildfire

Thousands of wildfires occur annually in Michigan causing the loss of hundreds of homes and buildings. Owners can reduce the chances of losing structures by applying practices outlined in the National Firewise Communities program.

Each year the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reports an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 wildfires occur in Michigan. While many of these fires cover a small area, there are enough larger fires in size and intensity to cause the loss of hundreds of homes and buildings annually. In many cases the structure loss could have been prevented if homeowners had use practices outlined in the national Firewise program offered through Michigan State University (MSU) Extension.

One area the Firewise program suggests homeowner work to create a defensible home ignition zone of at least 30 feet of space immediately around their homes. Within this defensible area there is a need to create and maintain a reduction or elimination of combustible materials such as vegetation, dead grass, dried needles, leaves, pruning shrubs and trees. Combustible construction materials such as sheds, decks, swing sets and fences are also to be a consideration for elimination in this area as well.

Other areas of concern addressed in the Firewise program include the use of fire-resistant construction materials, safe emergency access to the property, clean, green landscaping and the development of a general disaster plan. Beyond the individual landowners the program also offers the groundwork for establishment of nationally recognized Firewise Communities which shows you how to work with your neighbors to become safer.

For additional information on protecting your individual homes and structures from wildfire caused loss or on how to get assistance in establishing a Firewise Community in your area visit the MSU Extension Firewise website.

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