Assistant District Forester
join The Housing Hour this week to discuss The national Firewise Communities program. The Firewise program is a multi-agency effort designed to reach beyond the fire service by involving homeowners, community leaders, planners, developers, and others in the effort to protect people, property, and natural resources from the risk of wildland fire- before a fire starts! The Firewise Communities approach emphasizes community responsibility for planning in the design of a safe community as well as effective emergency response, and individual responsibility for safer home construction and design, landscaping, and maintenance. While many people play an important role in making homes safer from wildfire, no one has more control over the safety of a home than homeowners!
Preparing for rare catastrophic wildfire
and much more!
Tennessee Fire Wise
Tennessee has many types of forests and open areas, from the dense eastern mountain laurel thickets to the remote western cypress swamps. Between these are upland hardwood forests, pine stands, cedar glades, cove hardwoods, bottomland hardwoods and various types of open, brushy and forested land. Their unique characteristics and the variations in topography and weather, make wildland fire suppression in Tennessee quite challenging.
Fire threatens the sustainability of Tennessee’s forests. The Division of Forestry protects this resource with personnel and equipment. Employees are involved in fire readiness, wildfire suppression, training volunteer fire fighters, fire investigation and prosecution of arsonists.
Wildland fires in Tennessee are suppressed by mechanical and manual means. Forest fires in mountainous terrain are often fought by crews using hand tools. On rolling and flat terrain, bulldozers are used to attack wildfires by making fire lines. In either situation, a firebreak is cleared two to ten feet in width down to mineral soil. Sometimes fire is set along the firebreak to widen it and burn out fuels ahead of the wildfire. Wherever fires are accessible by roads or fields, water is sprayed on fires from small pumper units carried on pickup trucks.
Division employees work in tandem with the state’s Volunteer Fire Departments and Rescue Squads to protect forest resources as well as the homes and other structures in the path of wildfire. When houses are built in the woods, a situation called wildland/urban interface is created. There are steps homeowners can take to help make their houses safe from wildfire. The National Wildland/Urban Interface Fire Protection Program web site provides information on protecting your home from wildfire.
Tennessee typically has a spring and fall fire season. The spring fire season, prompted by warming weather, begins about February 15 and ends near May 15th, when the forest has usually “greened up” enough to prevent the rapid spread of forest fires. Fall fire season begins around October 15, when the leaves begin to fall and usually ends December 15th due to shorter, cooler, wetter days. Because of the variations in weather, wildland fires can occur any time during the year. It is important to note that a burning permit is required for outdoor burning during the period between October 15th and May 15th.
Firewise Communities Program
Brush, grass and forest fires don’t have to be disasters. NFPA’s Firewise Communities Program encourages local solutions for safety by involving homeowners in taking individual responsibility for preparing their homes from the risk of wildfire. Firewise is a key component of Fire Adapted Communities – a collaborative approach that connects all those who play a role in wildfire education, planning and action with comprehensive resources to help reduce risk.
The program is co-sponsored by the USDA Forest Service, the US Department of the Interior, and the National Association of State Foresters.
To save lives and property from wildfire, NFPA’s Firewise Communities program teaches people how to adapt to living with wildfire and encourages neighbors to work together and take action now to prevent losses. We all have a role to play in protecting ourselves and each other from the risk of wildfire.
NFPA logo About the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
NFPA is a worldwide leader in fire, electrical, building, and life safety. The mission of the international nonprofit organization founded in 1896 is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating consensus codes and standards, research, training, and education. NFPA develops more than 300 codes and standards to minimize the possibility and effects of fire and other hazards. All NFPA codes and standards can be viewed at no cost at www.nfpa.org/freeaccess.
The southeastern United States consistently experiences more wildfires per year than any other region. More than 100 million acres of land have a moderate to extreme potential for wildfire. The issue is not if an area will burn but when, and at what intensity.
Learn about your region’s unique wildfire risks by exploring this section. It provides federal, state, and local information and resources for the southeast – all of which support your community in becoming fire adapted.