One thing that all of us are aware of is that out of control fire does not discriminate. It does not care who you are or where you are. If you are in its path it will cause incomprehensible and unforgiving damage and destruction in a matter of seconds. There are some key points to consider while at work or home to protect your family and co-workers.
Have an Emergency Action Plan
- Designate a Muster Location. Make sure everyone on site knows where to meet in the event of a wildfire. Tell those who are periodically on site, (i.e. Crew, Managers, Oilers/Mechanics, & Subs)
- Have a Daily Personnel List and an Emergency Contact List. Superintendents and Site Foreman should know who is on site. Always check in/out with the Foreman. Foreman has access to names and numbers of site personnel, emergency contacts and Client.
- Periodically Question Site Personnel. As part of the Daily Toolbox talk ask individuals if they know where to go and what to do and the fire potential hazards and controls for their assignment
- Planning for Wildfire. Conduct a practice drill to check readiness. Everyone must know what to do in case of a wildfire. Discuss the plan as part of a weekly safety meeting; determine responsibilities. Coordinate with the fire department on the best route to get to the site.
- Designate a Rally Point. Make sure all family members know where to meet in the event of a wildfire. Make sure to account for everyone. Have a safe location to meet. If kids are away have a means to contact them. Have an emergency supply kit in your vehicle.
- Have a Good Plan. If you are not there, who will carry it out? Does everyone know what to do? Who will pick up the kids? Who will gather up the pets & medicines? If your first entrance or road is blocked, is there a secondary road to take? Have garden hoses readily available to wet vegetation and roofs. If a fire is headed your way get out as soon as possible.
- Have an Itemized List of Home Items. Have a lists or valuables with pictures, description and serial numbers. This will help with an insurance claim. Keep important documents (i.e. birth certificate(s), passport, financial papers etc.) in a safe, fireproof location.
- Be Prepared to Leave Home. Leave as early as possible, before you are told to evacuate. Leaving promptly clears the roads for firefighters to get in place to fight the fire. Allows yourself time to get things in order. There is no telling when you may be able to return.
Wildfire Prevention is the Best Practice
- Dispose of Combustibles. Check daily to ensure debris/trash is picked up, put in receptacles, & removed.
- Have a Designated Smoking Area. Make sure that it is away from dry vegetation & buildings w/ a butt container & fire extinguisher.
- Handle Flammables Correctly. Store flammables (i.e. gas cans, spray paints, two cycle mix etc.) in a flammable cabinet if possible. If not, keep out of direct sunlight. Make sure a fire extinguisher is readily accessible. Do not store flammables with combustibles. Report and clean up all spills.
- Check for Dry Vegetation. Avoid starting your vehicle on top of dry vegetation. The heat from a hot catalytic converter has been known to start fires. Avoid starting equipment on dry vegetation
- Maintain the Landscape. Trim grasses and pick up limbs and sticks. Keep trees & shrubs trimmed to create Defensible Space
- Clear leaves and debris from gutters, porches and decks. This prevents embers from igniting your home. Remove dead vegetation from under your deck or patio. Keep firewood stacks away from your home. Keep your lawn watered if possible.
- Invest in a Fire Extinguisher. We are not fire fighters, but consider if you are trapped or the fire is still manageable, fire extinguishers are extremely handy. Recommend and ABC Dry Chemical Extinguisher.
- Debris Burning. Do not burn on dry, windy days. Burn late in the day after the wind has quieted and humidity increases. Monitor the weather and avoid burning on high risk days. Remain outdoors until the fire is completely out. Keep water, a fire extinguisher and tools ready to use. If you burn in a barrel, consider using a wire mesh screen. Never burn on restricted days.
- Home Modifications. Considering fire resistant home modifications: Class A shingles, slate or tile roofing, exterior walls of stucco or masonry and double paned tempered glass as heat barrier. Make sure your driveway is fire engine accessible: 12 ft. wide, 15 ft. vertical clearance, and a slope less than 5 %.
Wildfire is unpredictable. Fires start from something as large as lightning strike or as small as a spark or cigarette butt. Most are man caused.