Keep Fire Alert
We are now under severe drought conditions and the constant threat of wildfires, with most every day having a moderate to high fire danger. Dry conditions, low humidity, high winds and a relatively high fuel load may keep us in this condition for the near future. People and their activities cause more than 90 percent of all wildfires in Texas. It is important that we all be as careful as possible to prevent wildfires, but also protect our homes and property in case of a wildfire. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
• Thanks to some good late summer rains some of our bermudagrass fields have dried grass standing in them, try to avoid driving over these fields in your trucks. Stopping to tag a calf where the grass is just high enough to reach a hot muffler can start a fire.
• Shredding- many of us would like to clean-up a few fields this winter, but it would only take a spark from hitting a rock or long forgotten T-post to start the fire that burns the country.
• Heat lamps in well houses, dog houses or whatever- This has been a winter when heat lamps have been necessary in well houses. Many well-houses have tall bermudagrass growing right up to them or against them. When they are necessary, every precaution should be taken to prevent a fire from heat lamps.
• Keep trailers in good shape- unexpected things do happen, like a blow-out causing a rim to spark, but we can try to keep safe when towing trailers or equipment. Simply making sure your safety chains are not going to drag is very important.
I know this is a good time of the year to catch-up on fence building and outside welding but welding certainly has the potential to start a fire. Here are a few precautions that most of you probably already follow and most are already listed under the burn ban requirements, but a reminder will not hurt:
• Remove vegetation from the work area.
• Use a sprayer to wet down the work area prior to starting welding operations.
• Keep water handy and an extinguisher.
• Have someone with you to spot any fires that sparks ignite.
• As previously mentioned, avoid parking work trucks in dry grass tall enough to touch the catalytic converter on the underside of your vehicle.
In case of a wildfire a quick response is critical to saving your home, shop or other buildings. One thing we do not often think about is, can firefighters find my home and what kind of access do they have. Fire trucks are larger and heavier than normal vehicles, it is essential that all access lanes are wide enough, have proper clearance and can support the weight of fire vehicles. Here are a few tips form the Texas A&M Forest Service to help improve access to your property:
• At least 3-inches tall- I would suggest in the country signs be much taller than 3”.
• Words on a contrasting color background.
• Made of reflective material.
• Made of fire resistant material- there are a lot of wooden ranch signs out there.
• Visible from both directions.
• Streets should be labeled, having different names and or numbers.
• If other homes are located on the same lane, your home should have its own house number and be in numerical order along your street.
• If your home is set back from the street, post your address at the end of your driveway where it is visible from the street.
• If multiple homes share a single driveway, post all addresses at the entrance from the street and at each appropriate intersection along the driveway
• Plan roads to allow for safe evacuation and firefighter access.
• Public and private streets should be a minimum of 10 feet wide, in order to allow two traffic lanes.
• Curves and intersections should be wide enough for large fire equipment to easily pass and turn.
• Roads and driveways must not be too steep or have sharp curves.
• Be sure limbs and other obstructions or trimmed or removed.
• Dead end streets and long driveways should have a turnaround area designed as a T or circle large enough to allow emergency equipment to turn around.
We are mostly all aware of the potential fire dangers and work to prevent them, now is the time to be extra careful when working outdoors. It is also an appropriate time to take a look at your properties access, be sure firefighters can get in if need be.
Let us hope we get some moisture soon and the fire danger threat goes away.