Fires keep RVFDs busy

Jack County Rural Fire Departments have been kept busy the last 2 days with grass fires. Monday afternoon the JCRVFD joined forces with the Perrin VFD to tackle a blaze that was located between Pump Station Road and Wimberly. Thanks to the quick response of the 2 departments the fire was contained, with a minimal number of acres burned.

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Once again, the tones were set off  today for the East Jack County RVFD and Jack County RVFD (with assistance from Runaway Bay) on a chain of fires that started along the bar ditches of 380 East. The afternoon winds wreaked havoc on the blaze as it swept through pastures fueled with dry grasses and other vegetation that are the product of a wet spring followed by a hot dry summer.

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According to Texas A&M Forest Service “Rural fire departments respond to 80 percent of the wildfires in Texas – and they do it with shoestring budgets and a staff often made up almost entirely of volunteers. Sometimes they need a little help. Our programs help fire departments pay for needed training and equipment. We also help communities and property owners learn to prevent, prepare for and protect against wildfire.

According to the TAMFS website, prevention is the key. The website offers the following tips.

Within 30 feet of your home and its attachments:

Make sure plants are carefully spaced, low growing and free of resins, oils and waxes that burn easily.
  • Mow your lawn regularly.
  • Prune trees 6–10 feet from the ground.
  • Create a spacing of 30 feet between tree crowns.
  • Create a ‘fire-free’ area within 5 feet of your home, using non-flammable landscaping materials.
  • Remove dead vegetation from under the deck and within 10 feet of the house.
  • Water plants, trees and mulch regularly.
  • Consider xeriscaping if you are affected by water restrictions.

30 – 100 feet from your home:

  • Leave 30 feet between clusters of two to three trees, or 20 feet between individual trees.
  • Plant a mixture of deciduous trees, such as oaks and maples, and coniferous trees, like pines.
  • Create fuel breaks like driveways and gravel walkways.
  • Prune trees up 6–10 feet from the ground.

100 – 200 feet from your home:

  • Remove smaller conifers that are growing between taller trees.
  • Remove heavy accumulations of woody debris.
  • Reduce the density of tall trees so canopies do not touch.
The goal of Firewise landscaping is to lower the intensity of a wildfire as it approaches your home. Vegetation that encourages wildlife and enhances water or energy conservation goals can be part of a Firewise landscape as long as defensible space is maintained.
For more information check out Firewise Landscaping in Texas (PDF, 13MB) or our Ready, Set, GO! Action Guide.
Of course, grass fires can often pose danger to homes and other buildings. The Forest Service recommends “hardening” of any buildings that could one day be in danger. To do so, the Forest Service offers these tips:
Hardening Your Home With Fire Resistant Material
Hardening a home describes the process of reducing a home’s risk to wildfire by using non-combustible building materials, keeping the area around your home free of debris and taking steps to prevent embers from entering the home.

The materials you use to construct your home can determine whether your home will survive a wildfire. While you may not be able to accomplish all the measures listed below, each will increase your home’s chance of survival. Here are a few tips for fire resistant home construction (PDF, 2MB).

Roof and Gutters

  • Use fire-resistant roofing material such as metal, tile or Class A shingles.
  • Inspect for gaps in roofing that can expose roof decking or supports.
  • Install metal gutters and gutter guards to keep debris from accumulating.
  • Place angle flashing over openings between the roof decking and fascia board.

Eaves and Soffits

  • Enclose or box-in eaves with non-combustible materials such as metal, cement board or stucco.
  • Install a metal screen behind roof vents.

Exterior Walls

  • Select heat and fire-resistant siding such as metal, brick, block, stone, cement board or fire retardant treated lumber.
  • Make sure there are no crevices or holes that could catch embers.

Windows

  • Install double-paned or tempered-glass windows.
  • Use metal framing or aluminum coverings for wood or vinyl.
  • Use a fiberglass or metal screen.
  • Use drapes and shutters that are fire resistant to help reduce the likelihood of fire spread.

Vents

  • Install 1/8-inch metal screening behind vents.
  • Clean vents to keep them free of debris, allowing them to keep embers out while allowing air flow for ventilation.

Decks, Fencing and Skirting

  • Spread gravel or other non-combustible material under the deck.
  • Screen in the bottom of the deck with metal 1/8-inch screening.
  • Separate wooden fences from the house with a stone or metal barrier.
  • Use a non-combustible material for skirting around the foundation
Embers (PDF, 1MB) pose the greatest threat to a home. These fiery little pieces of wood shoot off from the main fire and get carried to other areas by fast-moving air currents. A high-intensity fire can produce a virtual blizzard of embers. Some can travel more than a mile before landing. They can get into the smallest places and easily start a fire that can burn down an entire home.
For more information check out our brochure Fire Resistant Materials (PDF, 2MB) and Be Embers Aware (PDF, 1MB).
While this week’s fires have been brought under control in a timely matter- thanks to the fast action of our well prepared and trained firefighters- it never hurts to read up on prevention, and know what to do in the event that you find yourself in a wildfire situation.
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