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Implementing fire safety measures and fire-wise practices
Editor's note: The recent grass fires in the Panhandle have scorched thousands of acres and with the continued drought, the risk is far from over. Kelly Carpenter, the city of Denton's director of planning and development, was director of community development in Los Alamos during the Cerro Grande Fire in 2000. As a result of that experience, she became a nationally recognized expert on fire mitigation. We asked her to provide readers of The Amarillo Independent some information to prevent a grass fire and prevent home and other structures from burning should a grass fire strike a neighborhood.
The Texas Forest service can hold property owner meetings in the community to help owners become aware of what are known as wildland fire dangers and teach owners about the use of defensible space around their homes and outbuildings. Defensible space includes appropriate landscaping and building materials.
Implementation of fire safety measures and fire wise practices will help save property and communities. Here are some of those tips:
· Don't throw cigarette or cigar butts on the ground or out of a vehicle. Dispose of them properly and make sure they are completely out.
· Do not burn trash, leaves or brush outdoors and observe any burn bans that may be in effect.
· Keep a 30-foot "safety zone" surrounding the home clear of brush. Grass should be cut short in this area as well,
· Stack firewood at least 15 feet and uphill from the home.
· Rake leaves, cut off dead limbs and twigs, and mow grass regularly. Cut tree limbs within 15 feet of the ground and remove dead branches that extend over the roof.
· Don't park cars, trucks, or recreational vehicles on dry grass or shrubs. Exhaust systems can reach a temperature of more than 1,000 degrees; it takes about 500 degrees to start a brush fire in the summer.
· Use an approved spark arrester on all internal combustion engine-powered equipment.
· Maintain equipment in good working order.
· Parents should make sure their children understand the dangers of playing with fire.
· Homeowners who barbeque should maintain a 10-foot area free of brush and shrubbery around grills and propane tanks and use a non-flammable screen over the grill with mesh no coarser than 1/4 inch thick. Never leave a grill unattended. After use, place grill ashes in a metal bucket and soak in water.
· Keep a shovel, bucket of water, fire extinguisher, or other fire suppression tools on hand.
On the Web: http://www.firewise.org/fw_index.htm