FIRE PROTECTION AND MITIGATION - SUGGESTED GUIDANCE - July 2020
As mentioned in the July/August 2020 SMR Newsletter, on July 15, 2020, I met with a representative of the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management, Aaron Casem, who is the State Fire Prevention and Mitigation Officer. The goal was to get information and advice about the dangers of wildfire for residents of SMR and how to mitigate the risks and damage.
Prepared by Eloise Gore, Landscape Committee Chair
(Additional Fire Protection Information Located Below This Text)
In general, the risk of wildfire in SMR is low to moderate and would come, if at all, from the immediate areas around us rather than from the Catalina Mountains. Officer Casem's focus was on how to mitigate the impact of a fire, rather than analyzing potential sources. He paid close attention to individual properties, as well as the Common Areas.
Officer Casem explained how wildfire moves and how that influences mitigation. In theory, a fire could come up from down in the swale or from a home next door. Either way, Officer Casem's advice was the same:
• Look at the "ladder" of trees or bushes that could lead to a home.
• Look at the home to reduce vulnerability to fire if it comes.
Specifically be advised:
• Consider the potential path of a fire coming from outside your property. You don't want an easy ladder for a fire to climb to get to your home. Fire
can jump to a tree or bush near your house or send an ember onto the roof where leaves or other accumulated debris could ignite. Fire can travel to a
lawn chair, woodpile, propane tank or umbrella and thereby intensify and reach the house.
• Create enough space between and among trees and bushes near your property to reduce the ease with which fire can travel.
• Check the flat part of your roof for leaves and check under the tiles for bird nests and for any debris that could ignite.
• Clean up and remove dead plants, dried leaves, evergreen needles, and other plant debris around your home.
• Pay particular attention to keeping clear the area within five feet of your house, as well as keeping space among trees and bushes within 30 feet of the
• Do not leave combustibles outside your house, particularly when you are away. Combustibles can be furniture, umbrellas, canopies, toys, ristras,
propane tanks, woodpiles, decorative items, etc. Keep fuel tanks 100 feet from grasses.
• Try to avoid having trees or bushes touch the house because they could bring the fire to the structure. Generally, the type of tree or bush is not as
important as where it is in relation to the building and to other trees and bushes. If you do have trees near a house, make sure they are well irrigated
and maintained. Proper limbing and pruning includes clearing around the base of the tree so that grasses and bushes do not serve as a ladder fuel in
which flame can travel into the tree canopy.
• Do not let trees dry out or become overgrown; keep them well maintained and trimmed as needed; and eliminate nests and other dried material that
can accumulate within the branches.
• Eliminate buffelgrass, fountain grass, and desert broom. They are invasive, easily combustible, and burn very fast and hot. Note that SMR removes
these plants from the Common Areas.
• Do not eliminate trees and plants that are needed to control erosion, but they can be trimmed. Dried plants that are native (e.g., brittle bush) are not
in themselves a fire hazard but should be thinned out.
• With respect to construction of the home itself: skylights should ideally be glass rather than plastic or fiberglass; windows and sliders should be
double-pane tempered glass; all exterior wood should be treated with fire retardant; and, when replacing exterior wooden doors, consider choosing
doors made of composite construction.
For further information, consult the Firewise.org website (www.firewise.org <http://www.firewise.org>).
Fire Protection Considerations