Wildfire Preparedness

Wildfire in the City Community Forum Helps Residents Learn About Fire Safety

On November 14, Flathead Valley residents gathered at Whitefish City Hall to hear from fire experts on the dangers of living at the urban-wildland interface and what individuals can do to protect their homes from wildfire. Speakers included Joe Page, Whitefish Fire Chief, Jeff Mow, Glacier National Park Superintendent, Rick Trembath, retired Bigfork Fire Chief and fire historian, Ed Lieser, Fire Behavior Specialist, Richard Hildner, former Smoke Jumper and Fire Behavior Analyst and current Whitefish City Councilor, and Bambi Goodman from the Whitefish Area Fire Safe Council.

Extreme fire danger is the new norm for summers in Glacier Country. The recent fires in California have proven the risk of living in communities unprepared for fire, as we do here in Montana. Wildfire is no longer restricted to rural, forested areas like Glacier National Park—instead, it has razed thousands of homes in urban areas across the West. Properly preparing can go a long way towards lessening the severity of a blaze, and interested Whitefish residents can visit the link on our home page to learn more about fire safety and access fire resources courtesy of the Whitefish Fire Department. For a recording of the forum, see below. The event was organized by Climate Smart Glacier Country and sponsored by the City of Whitefish and FireSafe Flathead.

Click here to watch the City Community Forum

WILDFIRE PREPAREDNESS CHECKLIST

Here in the Whitefish area we are all in the urban interface and susceptible to an ember shower or fast-moving ground fire.  Don’t focus on your trees or become overwhelmed by the magnitude of issues. Start small—a few very simple steps can make a huge difference:

#1: Think of your home as fuel, work to prevent it from igniting.

#2: Think of your yard as a fuse, prevent it from leading a spark to your home.

#3: Think of your neighbors as partners, learn to work together.

HIGH PRIORITY TO-DO LIST

  1. Display your house number so it’s clearly visible from both directions of travel on your road.
  2. Keep your gutters clear of debris (sorry, this is a year-round, never-ending activity).
  3. Remove dead vegetation from under decks and porches.
  4. Keep vegetation within 10-feet of your home cut short and well-watered.
  5. Remove any flammable materials at least 30-feet from your home (wood piles or propane tanks, for example).
  6. Inspect and repair roof shingles.
  7. Inspect and repair metal roofs, especially where embers can penetrate.
  8. Cover attic, eave, and soffit vents using an 1/8-inch metal screening.
  9. Work with your neighbors to become a Firewise USA Community.

If you’d like a home evaluation or to discuss the Firewise USA Program contact Whitefish Fire Chief Joe Page (jpage@cityofwhitefish.org) or Ali Ulwelling (aulwelling@mt.gov) at the Department of Natural Resources & Conservation (DNRC) to schedule an appointment.

For more in-depth information about preparing your home for wildfire, see this checklist from the National Fire Protection Association.

 

RESOURCES

Your Home Can Survive a Wildfire (Video)

Climate Smart Wildfire in the City Community Forum (Video)

Can We Design Neighborhoods to Survive Wildfires (Fast Company article)

Prepare for an Evacuation with Ready, Set, Go (Wildlands Fire, International Association of Fire Chiefs)

Comprehensive Review of Resilience Strategies for Wildfire (Center for Climate & Energy Solutions)

http://www.mtpr.org/term/ali-ulwelling