November 2018 Firewise Chat

If you would like more information on how to make your own property Firewise or to learn more about how you can help in the community, please e-mail

From Jon Herring – Virginia Department of Forestry:

With recent news from the devastating fires in California, coupled with the fact that we are now in Virginia’s fall wildland fire season, now is a good time to start looking at things you can do around your home to better prepare for the threat of wildfire.

Although Virginia has remained very wet this far into the season, the potential for fire is still there. It doesn’t take more than a few days in a row of dry weather for hardwood leaf litter, pine straw, and lighter fuels to become available to fire. We’ve already had a few days in the past couple of weeks that have got right up onto the edge of fire weather, had it not been for wetting rain we absolutely would have seen the potential here in our corner of the world.

Now that a lot of the leaves have fallen, it’s the perfect time to get caught up on some of the maintenance around our homes. Simple things go a long way in mitigating the risk of wildfire. Cleaning gutters, under porches, and around our homes of leaf litter and pine straw helps reduce the threat of a structural ignition in the event of a fire. Be sure to check in hard-to-get places.

Additionally, keeping brush piles and flammable debris out of the defensible space around your home adds an extra layer of defense. Prune low hanging branches of trees within that same defensible space, especially coniferous trees, up to 6′ off the ground. This reduces “ladder fuels” that may allow a fire to climb into the canopy of a tree.

Dry, windy days are not the time to have a fire outdoors. Even a small camp fire may turn into a large forest fire. I would urge caution to residents here in VA, that even though we have had a wet season thus far, the potential is always there and to not get complacent.

Spring fire season is just around the corner, getting a good start to fire mitigation now while we have some wet weather may prove to be very beneficial going into next year.



Being Firewise on Thanksgiving   by Steve Kozup/MPOA Firewise Committee Member

Did you know that the likelihood of a cooking fire on Thanksgiving is THREE times more likely than on any other day of the year? Can cooking fires happen here and what does that have to do with wildfires? The answers are “yes”, and “plenty”.

Just a few years ago a home in Massanutten was devastated by a cooking fire. A kitchen fire got out of control very quickly and the entire home was consumed. Had it not been for the excellent efforts of our local fire departments the outcome could have been much worse. They managed to contain the fire to that single structure perched upon a steep hillside. Had that fire spread to the adjoining forest and conditions were just right, that fire could have had even more grave consequences for our community.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) there are several measures each of us should be taking to make this holiday and our community much safer.

  • Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking on the stovetop so you can keep an eye on the food.
  • Stay in the home when cooking your turkey and check on it frequently.
  • Keep children away from the stove. The stove will be hot and kids should stay 3 feet away.
  • Plan activities for children so they are not in the kitchen when cooking is being performed.
  • Keep the floor clear so you don’t trip over kids, toys, pocketbooks or bags.
  • Be sure electric cords from an electric knife, coffee maker, plate warmer or mixer are not dangling off the counter within easy reach of a child.
  • Keep matches and utility lighters out of the reach of children.
  • Never leave children alone in room with a lit candle.
  • Due to the recent power outages many of us discovered that our smoke alarm batteries needed attention. Make sure your smoke alarms are working. Test them by pushing the test button and replace dead batteries immediately.

Finally, the NFPA discourages the use of turkey fryers – 4,300 people a year destroy their homes while trying to fry a turkey.

Please have a safe holiday season and take a moment to remember all of those first-responders who will be on station and away from their families in order to ensure we’re all safe.

Post expires at 12:04pm on Monday December 31st, 2018