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Firefighters Encourage Homeowners To Reduce Wildfire Risks
Jun. 9, 2004

Firefighters in communities along the Wasatch Front are working with people to reduce their risk to wildfires. As Jed Boal tells us, many homeowners are in pretty good shape, others have a lot of work.

Home Owners who live in areas on the edge of the wilderness need to create buffer zones. When wildfires burn near homes, people pay attention and take action.

Each of the last few years wildfires scorched the slopes east of Provo, threatening homes, but damaging none. Firefighters expect to see more flames in the area this summer, so they're helping people target areas of brush that could easily burn. Deputy Chief Tom Kuhlmann says it can be the equivalent of building your home in the middle of a fire ring.

Deputy Chief Tom Kuhlmann/Provo Fire Department: "RIGHT NOW THE FUEL MOISTURES ARE SO LOW THAT EVEN THOUGH IT'S GREEN, IT WILL BURN VERY RAPIDLY, BURN VERY HOT. THE CONCERN WE HAVE IS WHEN IT BURNS CLOSE TO A STRUCTURE."

Bob Tackleberry cleared out dead brush for a friend whose east bench property was very overgrown.

Bob Tackleberry/Volunteer: "YOU HAVE LEAVES AND DEAD DEBRIS ON THE GROUND THAT'S THREE TO SIX INCHES IN DEPTH. IF YOU HAVE A FIRE UP HERE IT'S A DANGER TO THE WHOLE NEIGHBORHOOD."

Jed Boal/Eyewitness News: "THE FIREFIGHTERS AREN'T TELLING EVERYONE TO CLEAR-CUT AN ENTIRE MATURE LAWN. BUT, THEY DO WANT EVERYONE TO GET OUT THOSE FINE DEAD FUELS. THEY'RE ALSO TALKING ABOUT DEFENSIBLE SPACE. THIS HOMEOWNER HERE HAS A NICE SECTION OF LAWN BETWEEN ANY TREES AND THE HOME. THAT MEANS, IF THERE IS A FIRE, THEY CAN ESCAPE AND FIREFIGHTERS CAN ATTACK THE FIRE."

Deputy Chief Tom Kuhlmann/Provo Fire Department: "IF YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT A LAWN THAT'S ESTABLISHED, THAT'S DEFENSIBLE SPACE. WE WATER OUR LAWNS THE FUEL MOISTURES ARE HIGHER. IT CAN TAKE A LOT MORE HEAT BEFORE IT WILL GO."

In areas that aren't irrigated, the fuels are drier and fire danger is higher. Firefighters don't want people to be scared, but simple precautions can make a big difference when fire is at your back yard. Bob Tackleberry drastically reduced the risk for this homeowner and for firefighters.

Bob Tackleberry/Volunteer: "IF SOMETHING HAPPENS THEY HAVE TO COME UP HERE AND FIGHT THE FIRE, IT PUTS THEM AT RISK."

There are a lot of resources available if you want to find out more about creating that buffer zone. Look for materials on line, or give your local fire department a call.