Mammoth Lakes Fire Protection District gearing up for fire season
submitted by Thom Heller
Now that winter seems to have faded, the Mammoth Lakes Fire Protection District (MLFD) wants to remind residents of your responsibility to keep your property fire safe. Long term residents are aware of the wildland fire incidence that can occur around town and especially after dry winters and with windy, hot, dry summers. From just about anywhere in town one can see the results of previous fire activity and the scars that have been left behind.
Establishing and maintaining defensible space around our property is all of our responsibilities. We are all part of the team that will protect our community should we find ourselves in the situation of a wildfire threatening town. A well-maintained landscape enhances the beauty and value of any property— and just as importantly, the work serves as a fuel break. The goal is to keep your landscape lean, clean and green. The following steps can reduce your home’s vulnerability from the threat of wildfire and reduce your use of irrigation.
ZONE 1: 30 feet or more adjacent to the home and beyond attachments such as wooden decks.
Within the first 10 feet of the home, use nonflammable landscaping materials (rock, pavers), or low level annuals or perennials less than 18 inches in height. There should be nothing flammable within 10 feet of the home.
Keep this area lightly irrigated and free from dead or dry vegetation, combustible debris, and accumulations of leaf and needle litter. Plants should be carefully spaced, low growing and free of vegetation high in resins, oils, and waxes that burn easily. Mow lawns regularly.
Prune all trees up 1/3 the height of the tree or so the lowest limbs are 10-15 feet from the ground. If adjacent to a structure, prune up to the eave level. Clearance shall be a minimum of 10 feet from chimneys/stovepipes. Keep roof surfaces clear.
Thin out living vegetation 30 to 50% within this zone to decrease fire intensity and continuous path of travel.
Allow space between tops of trees to reduce the risk of crown fire.
Keep firewood stacks/piles at least 30 feet from the home. If this is not possible, from June 1 to September 30, cover entire woodpile with properly secured, fire resistive, California State Fire Marshal tagged tarp.
Water plants and trees as needed to ensure they are healthy. Do not use finely shredded mulch and mulch should be wetted periodically.
Areas around and above propane tanks need to be kept clear of vegetation for 10 feet.
ZONE 2: Approximately 30 to 100 feet from the home (if your property size permits).
Leave approximately 30 feet between clusters of two to three trees, or approximately 20 feet between individual trees. Do not remove more than 1/3 of the crown density.
Limit vegetation that serves as a link between low level vegetation and tree tops (ladder fuels).
Prune trees so branches and leaves are at least 10-15 feet above the ground.
Give yourself added protection with “fuel breaks,” such as gravel walkways, and lawns.
Remove any dead or dying material from yard and break up continuous patches of brush species to slow fire advance and decrease heat productivity.
Property owners who are unable to do this work themselves are encouraged to hire a licensed professional who both understand this information and can apply it to the property. MLFD maintains a list of qualified contractors that can perform this work.
Failure to comply with the regulations and clear your property in a timely fashion is not only expensive, but endangers the lives and homes of your neighbors, the community, and the firefighters who protect them.
If you would like more information on this or any other fire safety related matter, please feel free to contact the Mammoth Lakes Fire Department at (760) 934-2300.
cover photo by the Mammoth lakes fire protection district
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