Public Protection Cabinet
Forestry Offers Firewise Summer Tips
Note to editors/producers: This is one of a series of releases being issued as part of a joint Fourth of July and summer safety campaign by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, the State Fire Marshal’s Office, Kentucky State Police and the Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. The campaign addresses fireworks safety, drowning prevention, boating safety, food safety, skin cancer prevention and West Nile Virus information. Please visit our Summer Safety Web site at http://chfs.ky.gov/summerSafety08.htm for all campaign releases and to download audio/video PSAs and fireworks B-roll.
The Kentucky Division of Forestry (KDF) reminds Kentucky landowners and homeowners that wildfires can strike any time where grass and brush are dry enough to burn. Although the frequency of wildfires lessens after Spring green-up, there is still potential for wildfire conditions.
“This is the greenest time of year with the lowest fire danger; however, we are still having forest fires. We are encouraging everyone to be extra careful this summer,” said Bernie Andersen, KDF Fire Management Chief. Many summertime activities can cause accidental wildfires; however, there are precautions that can reduce the risks of spreading these fires.
With July 4th celebrations coming up, it is important to remember that mishaps from fireworks can potentially spread wildfires that threaten homes, property, wildlife habitat and forests. A good alternative to personal fireworks are the community displays sponsored by cities and towns across the state.
Campfires are another potential source of wildfire. A campfire should be less than four feet in diameter, with at least a 10-foot clearance around it. Always keep water and a shovel handy and use both of them to put out fires. Campfires should never be left unattended, and they should be completely extinguished before leaving the area. Campers should also be cautious when driving in backcountry areas. Faulty mufflers and catalytic converters can leave sparks and fires behind a vehicle; therefore, it is important to limit driving to approved roads and areas.
Unsafe burning of brush piles and other debris may also lead to escaped fires. Safety precautions should be taken and weather conditions considered before conducting any outdoor burning. It is illegal to burn garbage or other materials, except natural plant matter, such as yard waste and brush. County solid waste programs have information on debris collection or drop-off sites. Check with your local fire department, the Kentucky Division of Forestry, the Kentucky Division for Air Quality and the Kentucky Division of Waste Management to make sure you comply with local and other state outdoor-burning regulations.
The best way to protect property is to prevent wildfires from getting started in the first place. Homeowners who live in or near forested areas should prune and remove flammable plant and debris. Reducing the amount of fuel from shrubs, dead plant material and firewood will help create a defensible space around your home. Fire-resistant materials such as Class-A shingles, tile, or metal adds further protection. Homeowners should also make sure that house numbers and road names are clearly marked for emergency vehicles.
For more information about Firewise practices, visit the Kentucky Firewise Web site at http://www.forestry.ky.gov/programs/firewise/ or contact the Kentucky Division of Forestry at 502-564-4496.
The Cabinet for Health and Family Services has established a Web page offering safety tips on a variety of summer activities. The Web address is http://chfs.ky.gov/summersafety08