A Message from the Chief
The temperatures are getting warmer and even though the calendar doesn’t yet confirm it – Spring is upon us. And with Spring, our rains become less frequent. The weeds and underbrush that was killed by our numerous winter freezes get drier and drier in the heat. The danger from a wildland fire increases every day. Now is the time to take appropriate actions to mitigate the potential damage from wildfire.
Now, don’t get me wrong . . . . Florida has a year-round risk from wildfires. However, the danger is higher in the Spring.
So, let talk a little bit about fire prevention and then even more about mitigating our risk against wildfires.
In regard to preventing a wildfire . . . . .
Escaped Debris Burning is one of the leading causes of wildfires in Florida. That means people burning something and not keeping the burning debris under control. The next thing you know – the woods are burning down.
Also, don’t flip lit cigarettes out the window of your vehicle. That’s an invitation for disaster.
Now, the word mitigation means to reduce your danger of/damage from something. To reduce our danger of/damage from wildfire, we need to take the steps below (courtesy of the FL Division of Fire):
- Create a "defensible space" of at least 30 feet around their house. Within this area, grass should be mowed regularly and widely spaced plants with high moisture content should be given priority.
- Prune tree limbs within the defensible space to a height of 15 feet so lower limbs will not become ladder fuels that can carry a fire to the roof or soffits.
- Keep the roof and gutters free of accumulated leaves so the roof cannot be set afire by firebrands or embers carried by the wind.
- Keep a shovel, rake and ladder in a readily accessible location, and 50 to 100 feet of garden hose attached to an outside faucet.
- Make sure the home address is clearly visible at the street or road on a non-combustible sign so firefighters can quickly find the home in an emergency.
- Keep tree limbs at least 15 feet away from chimney outlets.
- Replace wood shingle or wood shake roofs with fire-retardant shingles, metal or tile roofs.
A lot of us run around with the attitude that, “it can’t happen to me.” The truth is, if we don’t take the appropriate steps to prevent a problem – we have a good chance of experiencing one.
Kevin R. Bowman, MPA, EFO, CFO, CHS IV
Fire Chief / Emergency Management Director
City of Leesburg Fire Department