ReadySetGo! Hawaii

YOUR PERSONAL WILDLAND FIRE ACTION GUIDE READY, SET, GO! HawaiiWildfire.org Hawai'i This guide was developed by: In partnership with:Saving Lives and Property Through Advanced Planning READY, SET, GO! Wildland Fire Action Guide INSIDE Wildland Fire Urban Interface 3 Hawaii’s Growing Wildfire Problem 4-5 What is Defensible Space? 6 Actions You Can Take Today 7 Defensible Space - Hawaiian-Style 8 What is a Hardened Home? 9 Creating a Safe Home in the WUI 10-11 Ready, Set, Go!: Your Own Action Guide 12-14 Large Landowners: Action Guide 15-16 Our Family’s Evacuation Plan 17-19 Residential Safety Checklist 20 “This publication was produced by Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization (HWMO), made pos- sible through a grant from the USDA Forest Service and with the help of HWMO’s partners from the Pacific Fire Exchange, Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources - Division of Forest- ry and Wildlife, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources of the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Hawaii Fire Department, Honolulu Fire Department, Kauai Fire Department, and Maui Fire Department, in a cooperative effort with the International Association of Fire Chiefs. HWMO is an equal opportunity employer. The national RSG! Program is managed by the International Association of Fire Chiefs, funded by the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service, the United States Department of the Interior, with partner support from the United States Fire Ad- ministration, Firewise Communities Program and the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety. For more information on the RSG! Program, please visit www.wildlandfireRSG.org.” he fire season is now a year-round reality in many areas across the Hawaiian Islands, requiring firefighters and residents to be on heightened alert for the threat of wildland fire. Each year, wildland fires consume hundreds of homes across the nation in the Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI), and Hawaii is at a similar risk. Studies show that as many as 80 percent of the homes lost to wildland fires could have been saved if their owners had only followed a few simple fire-safe practices. In addition, wildland fire related deaths occur because people wait too long to leave their home. In the event of a wildland fire, our first responders take every precaution to help protect you and your property. However, the reality is that in a major wildland fire event, there will simply not be enough fire resources or firefighters to defend every home. Successfully preparing for a wildland fire enables you to proactively take personal responsibility for protecting yourself, your family and your property. In this Action Guide, we hope to provide the tips and tools you need to prepare for a wildland fire threat (Ready), have situational awareness when a fire starts (Set), and to act early (Go!). The Ready, Set, Go! Program works in complimentary and collaborative fashion with the Firewise ® Communities Program and other existing wildland fire public education efforts. Utilizing firefighters and local wildland fire prevention expertise, it amplifies their messages to individuals to better achieve the common goal of wildland fire preparedness. Many residents have built homes and landscaped without fully understanding the impact a fire can have on them and few have adequately prepared their families for a quick evacuation. It’s not a question of if but when the next major wildland fire will occur. Through advanced planning, understanding and preparation, we can all be partners in the wildland fire solution. We hope you find the tips in the following pages helpful in creating heightened awareness and a more fire- safe environment for you, your family and firefighters. T “This Hawaii version of the RSG Action Plan was made possible by The Coopera- tive Fire Program of the U.S. Forest Service, Department of Agriculture, Pacific Southwest Region. In accordance with Federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.) To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Direc- tor, Office of Civil Rights, Room 326-W, Whitten Building, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (202) 720-5964 (voice and TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. 3 Living in the Wildland Urban Interface and the Ember Zone Ready, Set, Go! Begins with a House That Firefighters Can Defend A home within one mile of a natural area is in the Ember Zone. Wind-driven embers can attack your home. You and your home must be prepared well before a fire occurs. Ember fires can destroy homes or neighborhoods far from the actual flame front of the wildland fire. These threats are amplified in Hawaii due to the culmination of thermal, saddle, storm, and trade winds that create a complex system of strong, erratic winds (see diagram on right). Defensible Space Works! If you live next to a natural area, the Wildland Urban Interface, you should provide firefighters with the defensible space they need to protect your home. The buffer zone you create by removing weeds, brush and other vegetation helps keep the fire away from your home and reduces the risk from flying embers. Firewise Communities and other wildland fire prepared- ness education programs provide valuable guidance on property enhancements. Consider This Unmanaged vegetation between and around homes increases the risk of wildland fire spreading throughout the community, endangering lives and property. Pre-fire planning, fuels management, and sufficient fuelbreaks allow firefighters the space they need to keep fire from entering the community during a wildland fire event. Check out these photos of WUI areas from different parts of the islands. Do any of them remind you of where you and your family live? Not Only the Homes on the Wildland Boundary are at Risk Fire is wind-driven. Know your wind-related risks.Hawaii’s Growing Wildland Fire Problem And Why We Should Be Concerned Traditionally, Hawaii ecosystems existed with a very limited presence of wildland fire. However, as climate conditions and land uses have changed over recent time, non-native, fire-adapted vegetation have rapidly spread through our wildland landscapes and toward community boundaries. In addition, communities are expanding further into fire-prone areas, increasing the risk of wildland fires that threaten natural resources, including native habitats, and people’s lives and homes. Impacts on Natural Resources Invasive vegetation such as guinea and fountain grass spread easily and rapidly. These plants also ignite easily. After the fire, they re-sprout and out-com- pete native plants, spreading over a larger area than before. All it takes is another spark and the same area will burn hotter, more intensely, and over a larger area than before. This creates a vicious fire cycle. Mauka Fires Affect Makai Health and Safety In addition, Hawaii’s high-intensity rain events can sweep away soil through erosion, runoff and land- slides. Rivers and streams carry the debris and sediment into the ocean polluting coral reefs and negatively affecting sea life. This adversely affects com- merce such as fishing and marine/ coastal-based tourism. Wildland fire, fueled by the build-up of dry vegetation and driven by a complex system of hot dry winds, are extremely difficult, expensive, and dangerous to control. Hawaii’s wide diversity of challenging terrains add to the challenge for firefighters. Did You Know? 18% of the state land cover is nonnative grassland. Large fires destroy vegetation that help hold down soil. Heavy winds can lift the soil and create dust storms that impact air quality and human health. 4 DustImpacts on People & Communities Towns and cities expanding outward- ly into formerly undeveloped areas... and a steady increase in human ignition sources via human error and intention... and large areas of fallow, invasive, or un-managed vegetation... Future Outlook Climate change is increasing the length and frequency of drought periods, creating drier conditions. Scientists predict these trends will continue and even worsen, which will result in larger fires that are more severe and intense. We need to create resilient landscapes and communities across Hawaii. You can play a significant role by increasing resilience in and around your own home and preparing your family for a potential wildland fire event. Use the following pages as a guideline. How You Can Make a Difference As more areas become drier, they will become more prone to wildland fire. Just because your area is currently green, as shown in the Communities at Risk From Wildfires map below, doesn’t mean it will be in future. As a result, it’s best if you take action now, rather than later, when it may be too late. Did You Know? From 2002-2011, Hawaii experienced: >900 Wildland fire ignitions/year >17,000 acres burned/year ...are increasing the size, frequency, and intensity of fires across all of the islands on both wet and dry sides. 56 What is Defensible Space? Zone One extends 30 feet out from buildings, structures, decks, etc. • Remove all dead or dying vegetation. • Remove “ladder fuels” (low-level vegetation that allows the fire to spread from the ground to the tree canopy). Create at least 6 feet of separation between low-level vegetation and tree branches. This can be done by reducing the height of low-level vegetation and/or trimming low tree branches. • Create “fire-free” area within 5 feet of home, using non-flammable landscaping materials and/or high-moisture content, drought-resistant vegetation. • Trim tree canopies regularly to keep their branches a minimum of 10 feet from structures and other trees. • Remove leaf litter (dry leaves/pine needles) from yard, roof and rain gutters. • Relocate woodpiles or other combustible materials into Zone Two. • Remove combustible material and vegetation from around and under decks, lanai, or the entire house if foundation is post-and-pier. • Remove or prune vegetation near windows. Defensible space is the required space between struc- tures and the wildland area that, under normal conditions, creates a sufficient buffer to slow or halt the spread of wildfire to a structure. It protects the home from igniting due to direct flame or radiant heat. Defensible space is essential for structure survivability during wildland fire conditions. For more information about defensible space zones and preparedness techniques within each, visit the Firewise Communities website, www.firewise.org. ZONE ONE ZONE TWO Zone Two extends 30 to 100 feet out from buildings, structures and decks. You can minimize the chance of fire jumping from plant to plant by removing dead material and removing and/or thinning vegetation. The minimum spacing between vegetation is three times the dimension of the plant. • Remove “ladder fuels.” • Cut or mow annual grass down to a maximum height of 4 inches. • Trim tree canopies regularly to keep their branches a minimum of 10 feet from other trees/cluster of trees. * For larger properties, consider areas outside of Zone Two as a third zone to address. Continue reducing ladder fuels, managing fuels, hardening structures, and properly storing combustible materials. 1 2 *7 Actions You Can Take Today! Remove leaf litter and other debris that accumulate around the build- ing, under vegetation, and other collection areas. Eliminate ladder fuels by pruning tree branches on trees around the property to within at least 6 feet of the ground, using a bypass lopper (seen above), pruner saw, or long reach/hand pruner. Weed around the property regu- larly, especially areas that a lawn mower is not appropriate for (tall dry grasses, rocky terrain, etc.) Non-native trees, such as ironwood (seen below) constantly drop needles, leaves, branches, and other debris, so it’s best to stay on top of removing them from the ground before the pile becomes a major project. Consider reforesting these areas with native trees that don’t drop large amounts of debris. Remove flammable materials from underneath the house, decks, porches, and lanai. Common flammables include scrap-wood, firewood, and combustible furniture. Remove leaf litter, straw and other debris from under and around propane tanks to create 10 feet of clearance around it. Mow the lawn regularly to keep grasses shorter than 4 inches tall around the home. Do not mow in the heat of the day or when the wind is blowing. Never mow in dry vegetation. Invasive grasses such as guinea and fountain grass grow rapidly when un-managed and can dry out very quickly, creating a major fire hazard. Weed them often and consider replanting with low-lying, drought- tolerant, native ground cover. Watch Out for Exotic VegetationDefensible Space - Hawaiian Style Creating defensible space does not necessarily mean elimi- nating the presence of greenery on your property. You can still landscape around your home to make it fire-safe without compromising beauty and aesthetics. By planting native, drought-tolerant plants (xeriscaping) around your home, you can: • Protect your home from wildland fire ignition and spread • Beautify your property • Perpetuate an important natural and cultural resource • Decrease the maintenance needs of your landscaping For the drier areas of Hawaii, consider that native dryland plants are specially adapted to local conditions and require less upkeep, water, and fire maintenance, saving yourself a great deal of time, money, and resources. Non-native, lush plants often drop hazardous debris and can become fire prone in drought conditions. Did You Know? The same winds that blow hazardous debris towards a collection area (underneath shrubs, under the lanai, next to outer edges of home, etc.) will likely carry embers during a wildland fire to that same spot, and ignite that pile. That’s why it’s incredibly important to constantly remove debris from these areas long before a wildland fire occurs . Consider selecting native plants from this list that are most relevant to your area: 8 Homes with Great Xeriscaping ‘Ilima Papa Bonamia‘Ākia ‘A‘ali‘i ‘Akoko ‘Ihi Nānū Pōhinahina Ma‘o Hau Hele Koki‘o ‘Ūlei Wiliwili Koai‘a Uhiuhi Hala Pepe ‘Ohi‘a Lehua Ko‘oko‘olau‘Ohe Makai ‘Iliahi Nehe Alahe‘e ‘Ala‘ala Wai Nui Kolomona Koai‘a Mamaki KoleaMaia PiloWhat is a Hardened Home? ROOFS Roofs are the most vulnerable surface where embers land because they can lodge and start a fire. Roof valleys, open ends of barrel tiles and rain gutters are all points of entry. EAVES Embers can gather under open eaves and ignite exposed wood or other combustible material. VENTS Embers can enter the attic or other concealed spaces and ignite combustible materials. Vents in eaves and cornices are particularly vulnerable, as are any unscreened vents. WALLS and FENCING Combustible siding or other combustible or overlapping materials provide surfaces or crevices for embers to nestle and ignite. Combustible fencing can become engulfed and if attached to the home’s sidings can carry the fire right to the home. WINDOWS and DOORS Embers can enter gaps in doors, including garage doors. Plants or combustible storage near windows can be ignited from embers and generate heat that can break windows and/ or melt combustible frames. BALCONIES and DECKS Embers can collect in or on combustible surfaces or the undersides of decks, lanai, and balconies, ignite the material and enter the home through walls or windows. Post-and-pier homes, common throughout Hawaii, are especially vulner- able since most, if not all, of the underside of the house is exposed. To harden your home even further, consider protecting your home with a residential fire sprinkler system. In addition to extinguishing a fire started by an ember that enters your home, it also protects you and your family year-round from any fire that may start inside your home. Construction materials and the quality of the defensible space surrounding it are what give a home the best chance to survive a wildland fire. Embers from a wildland fire will find the weak link in your home’s fire protection scheme and gain the upper hand because of a small, overlooked or seemingly inconsequential factor. However, there are measures you can take to safeguard your home from wildland fire. While you may not be able to accomplish all the measures listed below, each will increase your home’s, and possibly your family’s, safety and survival during a wildland fire. 9 Gutter Guards or Screens Enclosed Eaves Screened Vents Non-Combustible Fencing Windows Clear of Vegetation Home ImprovementsNext >

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