The City of Titusville, Florida / Emergency Management / Natural Disasters / WildfiresWildfires
Wildfires are nature’s way of managing wild plant life and regenerating growth. But, they also can be the result of other factors. People who burn trash and other materials in their yards, intentionally set fires, and lightning strikes create hundreds of wildfires every year. Since 1998, more than 15,000 Florida wildfires have devastated over one million acres and destroyed more than 750 structures.
Wildfires can result in the loss of more than just homes. Businesses that depend on timber, such as paper mills and lumber companies, experience losses that are often passed along to consumers through higher prices, and sometimes jobs are lost as well. The high cost of responding to and recovering from wildfires can sap state resources and increase insurance rates. The economic impact of wildfires can also be felt in the tourism industry if roads and tourist attractions are closed due to health and safety concerns.
As Florida’s population continues to grow, many people are choosing to live in or around wooded areas. The point at which woodland areas meet with residential homes and subdivisions is called the “wildland-urban interface.” While living with nature at your doorstep is attractive, living within this “wildland-urban interface” places many homes at risk to quickly spreading wildfires.
However, you can take action to protect yourself and your community from the effects of wildfires. Education programs such as “Firewise” were developed to help communities better understand how to reduce the threat of wildfires through fire-resistant construction and landscaping techniques.
The Firewise program is coordinated through the Florida Division of Forestry and the Division of Emergency Management, in cooperation with the National Wildland Coordinating Group and the National Fire Protection Association. More information on these organizations and their various programs is available on the Internet. The Firewise Web site can be found at www.firewise.org. Information is also available from the Florida Division of Forestry at www.fl-dof.com or from the Florida Division of Emergency Management at www.floridadisaster.org.
Wildfire Safety Actions
Create a defensible or safe space of at least 30 feet around your home that is lean, clean, and green.
To help emergency vehicles gain access, make sure driveways are at least 12 feet wide with at least 15 feet of overhead clearance, and are easily identifiable.
Keep gutters, eaves, and yards clear of debris, sticks, pine needles, and leaves.
Trim all tree branches that hang over the house or are lower than 6 to 10 feet from the ground.
Plant fire resistant plants such as dogwood, sycamore, magnolia, oaks, red maple, wild azalea, sweetgum, black cherry, and ferns instead of pines and palmettos.
Use fire resistant construction materials where possible, and fire resistant barriers when attaching flammable materials, such as wood decks or fences to the house.
Follow local regulations for the burning or disposal of yard waste and other materials.
Develop a personal disaster plan, including a plan for evacuating your home. Be sure to identify at least two routes out of your neighborhood or subdivision.