Ask any wildland firefighter even a decade ago and he or she will tell you forestry firefighting has not changed much in a hundred years.
Studies on fire behavior have helped us understand our foe, but the principals of “Anchor, Flank and Maneuver” remain a staple in fire emergency efforts; aided today by aircraft, a more reliable communications system and modernized command structures. However, the industry itself remains largely re-active. Yet the solution is simple – be PROACTIVE!
The concept saw its first successes with the introduction of SPU (Structure Protection Units) into the ranks of wildland personnel. These specialized units work far ahead of the fire and set up defenses in the form of sprinklers and pumps. When these defenses are in place, fires encroaching these protected areas die down due to the rise in humidity and fall short due to the absence of combustible materials.
IDEAL TARGETS FOR SPU UNITS
Properties lying on the edge of town reside in areas we call the Wildland Urbane Interface; or “WUI”. The new approach taken by wildfire professionals is to designate these properties and acreages as the new “defendable space”. Bulldozer fire guards, roads and streams are a false sense of security - you can’t outrun a wildfire: the embers are already falling hundreds of yards ahead of you. While fire guards help maintain the flanks of a fire, in emergency situations they are mostly utilized to contain controlled burns.
If we remove fire fuel, convert the vegetation, and limit the chance of ignition, we reduce the risk of losing homes, communities, and infrastructure.
The responsibility of preventing fire from harassing, or devastating our communities lies within the communities and property owners themselves. Fire crews, while doing everything they can to save and protect, ultimately prioritize areas much like a combat doctor would triage casualties in a field hospital, they examine whether an area is deemed a “defendable space”. Resources like personnel, pumps and heavy equipment are allocated based on the likelihood of success given the amount of time they have before the fire arrives. Structures and properties stand a chance of surviving the few minutes it takes a fire to rip through, but the firefighters cannot survive a direct attack. Therefore, firefighters are often forced to pull back and work the flanks of the fire, ultimately leaving communities very vulnerable. The importance of fire fuel reduction BEFORE wildfires occur is thereby paramount.
Programs such as FireSmart ® Canada have been taking the initiative in helping homeowners prepare for wildfire by aiding in education and facilitating fuel reduction efforts.
Despite these efforts, only about 0.5% of the WUI is able to be treated annually; but the WUI itself grows by roughly 1% a year with population increase. For this reason, Acreage Care Canada™ aims to encourage and aid property owners to create that Defendable Space.
Acreage Care Canada, founded by Veteran Wildland Firefighters, specialize in Pro-Active wildfire hazard management, vegetation management and other seasonal acreage chores.
Successful fire fuel management operations come complete with a property placard, letting emergency services know what resources are on site, and what precautions have been taken to aid in wildfire defense.
Let us help you create that defendable space by turning your property into a park!