FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 20, 2013
Wildfire prevention tips for this Memorial Day Weekend
OLYMPIA – The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is urging people to exercise caution with fire this Memorial Day Weekend. Wildfire season has started here in Washington, and there have already been over 91 wildfires across the state.
During holiday weekends, public lands tend to be a favorite destination for people looking for outdoor recreation opportunities. “We have an early start to wildfire season, and the look ahead is troubling,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark. “We’re asking the public for their help to keep our communities safe and use extra caution to avoid accidently starting a fire.”
Here are some steps to ensure a fire-safe holiday weekend:
- Make sure all off-road vehicles have a properly functioning catalytic converter or approved spark arrester.
- Only build campfires when and where authorized, and put them completely out.
- Use ample water, and stir until the coals are cool to the touch.
- Dispose of lit smoking materials appropriately.
- Remember that discharging fireworks is illegal on public lands.
Home survival of wildfire
Holiday weekends are a good time to look at the structure survivability of your home, business or other buildings. How well a structure resists fire ignition and can suppress any fire ignition that might occur will depend on:
- Home “Hardening”: Are the roof, siding, and decking made of fire-resistant materials?
- Fire exposure: Are there tree limbs, wood piles, or vegetation close to the structure that could easily ignite? Is vegetation growing close to the structure well maintained, low growing, and not dried out? Do you have 30 feet of defensible space?
- Safe Access: Are your house or other structures in a place that firefighters can locate, reach, and safely remain to fight a fire?
In Washington, outdoor burning is a leading cause of wildfire ignitions. As we transition into late spring, the westside can experience strong east winds, and the eastside can have fast moving, dry cold fronts. So be aware of rapidly changing weather conditions, especially if burning outdoors.
Before burning, call 1-800-323-BURN (2876) or log onto http://fortress.wa.gov/dnr/firedanger.
To prevent fire ignition around structures, improve the structure’s survivability. Remember, ‘Only You Can Prevent Wildfire.’
Wildfire Prevention Resources
DNR is encouraging homeowners, land managers, first responders, developers, business owners, and civic leaders to focus on “Knowing Your Role” when it comes to preparing communities for wildfire. Visit the Fire Adapted Communities website (http://fireadapted.org/) to learn more about defensible space, fire-resilient building construction, and community wildfire prevention planning. Also, visit the Firewise Program (www.firewise.org) and Ready, Set, Go! for more resources on preparing for wildfires.
DNR’s wildfire mission
Administered by Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark, DNR is responsible for preventing and fighting wildfires on 13 million acres of private, state and tribal-owned forestlands. DNR is the state's largest on-call fire department, with over 1,000 employees trained and available to be dispatched to fires as needed. During fire season, this includes over 700 DNR employees who have other permanent jobs with the agency and about 400 seasonal employees hired for firefighting duties. Additionally, Department of Corrections’ adult offenders and Department of Social and Health Services-Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration juvenile offenders participate in the DNR correctional camps program. DNR also participates in Washington's coordinated interagency approach to firefighting.
Media Contact: Janet Pearce, Communications Manager, 360-902-1122, firstname.lastname@example.org.
# # #