Don't Just be Wise... be Firewise!

The increased threat of fire that we’ve seen over the last decade can often leave people feeling frightened and helpless. However there are simple steps you can take that go a long way towards protecting your home should a fire ever break out nearby. Below, Anacortes Fire Department Chief Dave Oliveri lets you know what you can do to stay Firewise:

The Keys to having a Firewise Home:

Firewise Landscaping

Home Ignition Zone: Keep leaves and needles off your roof and deck. Create a fuel-free area within 3-5 feet of your home’s perimeter. From 5 feet to a minimum of 30 feet out, thin and space vegetation, remove dead leaves and needles, prune shrubs and tree limbs. Keep areas around decks, sheds, fences and swing sets clear of debris and vegetation.

Landscaping and Firewise Plants: To prevent fire spread, trim back branches that overhang structures and prune branches of large trees up to 6 to 10 feet from the ground. Remove plants containing resins, oils and waxes; make sure organic mulch is at least 5 feet from structures. Choose Firewise plants- find lists at

Be Prepared

Action Plan: Develop, discuss and practice an emergency action plan with everyone in your home. Include details for pets & large animals. Program cell phones with emergency numbers. Know two ways out of your neighborhood and have a predesignated meeting place. Maintain an emergency water source. Always leave if you don’t feel safe- don’t wait to be notified.

Emergency Responder Access: Identify your home and neighborhood with legible, clearly marked street names and numbers. Make your driveway at least 12 feet wise with a vertical clearance of 15 feet and a slope of less than 5 percent to provide access to emergency vehicles.

Firewise Construction

Fire-resistant Roof Construction: Use fire-rated shingles such as asphalt, metal, slate, clay tile or concrete products. A fire-resistant sub-roof adds protection. Box in eaves, but provide adequate ventilation to prevent condensation and mildew. Roof and attic vents should be screened to prevent ember entry.

Fire-resistant Attachments: Any attachments to your home such as decks, porches and fences must be fire-resistant. If not, your home is vulnerable to ignition.

Fire-resistive Walls and Windows: Embers can collect in small nooks and crannies and ignite combustible materials; radiant heat from flames can crack windows. Use fire-resistant siding such as brick, fiber-cement, plaster, or stucco and tempered or double-paned glass windows to protect your home.

Home Safety Checklist

  • Clean roofs and gutters of dead leaves, debris, and pine needles.

  • Replace or repair any loose or missing shingles or roof tiles.

  • Enclose under-eave soffit vents or screen with metal mesh.

  • Cover exterior attic vents with metal wire mesh no larger than 1/8”.

  • Repair or replace damaged or loose window screens and any broken windows.

  • Screen or box-in areas below patios and decks with wire mesh to prevent debris and combustable materials from accumulating.

  • Move any flammable material away from wall exteriors, mulch, flammable plants, leaves and needles, firewood piles- anything that can burn.

  • Remove anything stored underneath decks or porches.

All of these simple fixes will make your home safer from embers and radiant heat.