Wildland Fire Prevention Education Term Paper

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Tips and Educational Instructions to Help Homeowners Prevent Fires

Who is responsible for prevention of fires?

Defining the problem

Causes of the problem

Solving the problem










The sudden increase in fires in history has caused nationwide concern. Recently, many homes, businesses and forests have exploded into flames without any warning. Statistics are reporting that fires recently destroyed 849 homes and 800 buildings. Some of the causes of these fires are failure to cut the underbrush, types of roofs on buildings or homes, and not only keeping the shrubs trimmed but also being careful about what type of shrubs that are growing close to the house. Firefighters have been deciding on different plans of action that will prevent forest fires. Educators have also been trained to teach students what they can do to prevent fires. If the plans are successful the nations problem of home, business and forest will be prevented.


Defining the Problem

Activists have put restrictions on the clearing the underbrush, which is causing more forest fires than ever before. Fires are springing up all over the nation due to careless decisions and the extreme precautions to preserve wildlife. Since the concern to preserve wildlife has been taken to an extreme, fires are destroying human lives, homes and businesses. United States Department of Agriculture has decided to take action to prevent unnecessary fires. "USDA and firefighters are responsible for deciding on a solution to eliminate the home, property and wildlife forest fires" (NA, U.S. Newswire, 2002)

Causes of the Problem

The main cause of forest fires that has destroyed many homes and businesses is failure to cut out the underbrush. In the past, all of the weeds, bushes, trees and grass were cut down. Shrubbery was kept to a minimum, and cleared of growing weeds, and grass. Activists fought the clearing out of the underbrush to protect wildlife. The effect of allowing the underbrush to grow has caused the nation to hit an all time record high of unnecessary fires, destroying homes, businesses, and lives. Protection of wildlife has caused the quality of human life to be destroyed.

When the underbrush stopped getting cut, fires have become a national problem. This is a problem the nation never had before. However there are other factors that contributed to fires. For businesses, the amount of fuel they are allowed to have on site was not regulated. Woodpiles are being stacked too close to the buildings or homes, are another fire hazard.

Solving the Problem

The sudden increase of fires has caused the authorities to take preventive measures to control this growing problem. If the underbrush is cleared out on a regular basis, many forest fires will be prevented. Other preventions will include installing or building houses and businesses with metal roofs, and installing electronic carbon monoxide monitors that will track smoke. New material for educating students in school about prevention of fires is being researched, and given to the teachers. If every home and business created a defensible space, they will have significantly decreased the chances of having a fire.

Carbon monoxide is a toxic gas and it is a common by product

Of incomplete combustion. Dense smoke produced from a wildfire has high carbon monoxide, similar to the exhaust from an automobile engine. OSHA regulates workplace CO exposure to prevent occupational illnesses. Because CO has no color, odor or taste it can be dangerous to firefighters at wildlife and prescribed burns" (Reinhardt, Ottmar, Hallet, 3/1999).

Homes, especially the ones built in the forest or other high-risk areas will have to take extra precautions. High risk homes will be required to have metal roofs, cannot stack wood near there houses, and limits on how much wood can be stacked will be enforced.


Forest Clearing for Agriculture

Preservation of wildlife cannot be place before the preservation of human life. Usually when civilization is expanded, the forest is affected. When the forest is cleared out for civilization, it can no longer be productive for wildlife. The population has extended beyond the lands limitations to support society. The consequences of the growing human population are that human survival is in competition with wildlife survival. Activist is putting the pressure on the USDA to find a solution that will preserve wildlife. However, the USDA is finding that wildlife is secondary to human welfare. (USDA Government Web Site, 2002)

Watershed Degration In Mountain Areas

Mountain area has been the second option for expanding civilization. "More recent population agricultural practices causing progressive degradation of the ecosystem. The consequences are soil erosion, and reduced infiltration in the watershed, with such downstream effects as floods, droughts, siltation of reservoirs and waterways and irregularity of water supply for hydropower irrigation, industry and domestic use" USDA 2002). Improper development has also caused forest fires. Roads were not properly constructed. Cheap land allows farmers to buy quantities, but the quality of production is not monitored as closely as more civilized areas. USDA has decided that rainfall distribution into these mountain areas were going to be implemented. This is done by building damns or ensuring the proper flow of rivers

Desertification of Semi-Arid and Sub-Humid Areas

Humid areas are much more prone to forest fires, so the USDA has decided they will classify high-risk areas. Once they classify this land, the land is not to be used for anything else but what the government orders. Civilization will not be allowed to expand to the high-risk, humid areas. Farmers buy land and prepare the land by burning the underbrush. An increased chance of the fire blazing out of control is risky in high risk or high humid areas.


If everyone does their part in the prevention of fires, many of these disasters would have been prevented. There is something that everyone can do. It can be a small step such as educating a small child, volunteering to teach fires prevention and safety courses to nursing homes or schools or sending a donation to your favorite fire prevention organization. Everybody is responsible for the prevention of fires. The government is responsible for enforcing laws and regulations to prevent fires, teachers are responsible for educating students on how to prevent fires, parents are responsible for constructing their homes accordingly and following the regulations -- and using plain common sense. If everyone was to follow laws and implement common sense procedures, many would be fires would be eliminated.


Use fire resistant building material such as;

Fire resistant roofing structures

Tile, Slate, Sheet Iron, Aluminum, Brick, Stone

Treat wood siding, cedar shakes, exterior wood paneling, and other highly combustible materials with fire retardant chemicals

Keep roofs and gutters clear of flammable materials by cleaning them often.

Do not allow tree branches to extend within 10 feet of the flue opening of any stove or chimney opening.

Cover any chimney or stovepipe opening with non-flammable screen

Landscape trees or shrubbery should be spaced apart.

Remove branches of trees to height of 15 feet

Keep a fuel break around all structures

Soak stove and fireplace ashes, and charcoal briquettes in water before disposal.

Keep gasoline stored in safety can away from buildings

Shut off valves of propane tanks. And keep away from buildings.

Keep firewood, picnic tables, boats, etc... away from structures

Connect garden hoses to outlet

Keep fire tools such as, ladder long enough to reach the roof, shovels, rakes, and buckets for water within easy reach for emergencies.

Get at least two fire extinguishers, at least one in kitchen and one in laundry room.

Do not keep paper, old newspapers, or magazines to clutter.

Do not smoke in bed (i.e. while watching TV before going to sleep).

Use smokeless ashtrays

Do not overload outlets.

Immediately unplug connection wires.

Have at least two different escape routes.

Most ideas taken from National Interagency Fire Center)


Recently, unexpectedly blazing fires started bursting into flames, and it was not long before the officials knew they had to react quickly. Many people were losing their homes and businesses to fires. North America has seemed to be the most affected areas, but these disasters can happen anywhere.

Of all the risk factors, the major concern is the preservation of wildlife. Allowing trees and shrubbery to grow is also the biggest factor in forest fires. When civilization expands, the forest and the mountains is the most probable place. This causes a problem for wildlife. The activist is saying we are going into their territory; they are not coming into our territory. Through this research, a solution was not found.

Certain areas are high risk for fire disasters. Homes build in the forest are at a great risk, because of the shrubbery, trees and woods. This is what starts fires. Not only does this start fires…[continue]

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