Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Protect our Urban Forests - FIRE!

Statesman Journal
May 27, 2009

All around us are trees and other vegetation. In our yards, along the streets, in parks and office complex parking lots, we have an urban forest. This is part of what makes Oregon a beautiful place to live.

Some trees are native forest, remnants left behind as we built our cities, and are home to a variety of critters. However the trees got there, they now make up the forest we live in and should protect.

Now that we realize we live in a forest, we should start thinking about fire season. The weather is getting warmer — slowly — and as it does the danger to our homes and the forest around us increases. It is our responsibility to turn fire-vulnerable urban properties into areas where firefighters may more safely and effectively defend homes from disaster.

Complicated or large-scale changes and those that affect the structure of your house or its electrical wiring and plumbing should be carried out only by a professional contractor licensed to work in your state. But some things we can do on our own.

Remove vegetation, yard debris and other combustible materials that may be near your home. Excess vegetation and debris around structures and along driveways make great fuel. In some cases, it is also necessary to create fuel breaks along property lines and roadsides.

As with all disaster preparation, do what you can now to protect your home and our urban forest.

Jennifer Bailey, formerly of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is the Public Affairs Coordinator of Oregon Emergency Management. She may be reached at (503) 378-2911, Ext. 22294, or