Friday, January 10, 2014

It's Time to Prepare Your Home for Fire Season

More than 19,000 letters have been mailed to the owners of residential lots located in wildfire-prone areas of Josephine County. The letters describe the landowners’ vegetation fuel reduction responsibilities under the Oregon Forestland-Urban Interface Fire Protection Act, and include a self-certification form which should be mailed to the Oregon Dept. of Forestry when fuel reduction projects have been completed.

These forms are mailed to landowners every 5 years. The purpose of the law is to make homes and other structures more defensible against damage or destruction by wildfires.

In most cases, landowners are required to reduce potentially flammable vegetation within 50 feet of homes and other structures. Fuel reduction projects include:
  • Mowing tall, dry grass and weeds
  • Removing dead or dying trees, low-hanging tree branches, and shrubs
  • Thinning thickets of blackberry brush, manzanita and buck brush
  • Ensuring that the driveway to the residence is accessible to emergency vehicles
  • During the months of fire season, moving firewood and lumber piles at least 20 feet from structures, or putting firewood and lumber into an enclosed shed
No fuel reduction is required on lands where a permanent structure is not present.  A permanent structure is defined as a permanently sited building that is minimum of 500 square feet in size.

Returning a self-certification form to the Oregon Dept. of Forestry is an important step as it relieves a landowner from the law’s fire cost recovery penalty. An inspection of the property isn’t required prior to sending in a self-certification form; however, ODF fire prevention specialists are available to provide free, on-site evaluations upon request.

For more information, see the Southwest Oregon District’sWildfire Protection web page, or contact the Oregon Dept. of Forestry’s Grants Pass Unit at (541) 471-3889.