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Tennessee State Fire Marshal & State Forester Promote Wildfire Preparedness

Tennessee State Fire MarshalNashville, TN – As April wildland fires threaten the lives and property of many Tennesseans, the State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Division of Forestry urge residents to plan ahead to make their home and property much safer from wildfire.

Wildfires can have devastating consequences for Tennessee property owners. Records show over 4,800 wildland/outside fire incidents occurred last year resulting in over $1.6 million in property damages. Curbing those fires also took a toll, requiring Tennessee fire service and Division of Forestry personnel to spend thousands of hours fighting those fires.

Fire Safety

“Wildfires often begin unnoticed,” State Fire Marshal and Commerce & Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak said. “They spread quickly, igniting brush, trees and homes. Reduce your risk by preparing now, before a wildfire starts. Meet with your family to decide what to do and where to go if wildfires threaten your area.”

Preparedness does not have to be costly or time consuming. With basic planning, residents can reduce the risk that their homes and property will become fuel for a wildfire.

“No one has more control over the safety of a home in advance of a wildfire than homeowners,” said Jere Jeter, State Forester of Tennessee. “Simple Firewise practices can ensure your home and your family are prepared in the event of a wildfire.”

Follow the steps below to help protect your loved ones, home, and property from the dangers of wildfire:

Plan & Practice Wildfire Safety

  • Conduct outdoor burning safely and legally, being sure to secure the appropriate permits.
  • Make sure that fire response vehicles can reach your home. Clearly mark all driveway entrances and display your name and address. Ensure adequate accessibility by large fire vehicles to your property.
  • Report hazardous conditions that could cause a wildfire.
  • Teach children about fire safety. Instill in them that fire is a tool for adults, not a toy. Keep matches and lighters out of their reach.
  • Post fire emergency telephone numbers.
  • Plan several escape routes away from your home – by car and by foot.
  • Assemble an emergency supply kit and place it in a safe spot. Remember to include important documents, medications and personal identification.
  • Talk to your neighbors about wildfire safety. Consider how you could help neighbors – such as elderly or disabled persons – who have special needs. Make plans to take care of children who might be on their own if parents can’t get home.

Protect Your Home

  • Create a 30-to-100-foot safety zone around your home.
  • Rake and remove leaves, dead limbs, twigs and rubbish from around and under structures in this zone and clear all flammable vegetation.
  • Prune tree branches and shrubs within 15 feet of a stovepipe or chimney outlet.
  • Ask the power company to clear branches from power lines.
  • Regularly clean roofs and gutters, and inspect chimneys.
  • Remove vines from the walls of the home.
  • Mow and water grass regularly.
  • Store gasoline, oily rags and other flammable materials in approved safety cans. Place cans in a safe location away from the base of buildings.
  • Stack firewood at least 100 feet away and uphill from your home. Clear combustible material within 20 feet. Use only wood-burning devices evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory.
  • Identify and maintain an adequate outside water source such as a small pond, cistern, well, swimming pool or hydrant.

Escape Safely

  • If advised to evacuate, do so immediately. Remember to take your emergency supply kit.
  • Lock your home when you go and make sure all windows and doors are closed.
  • Wear protective clothing: sturdy shoes, cotton or woolen clothing, long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, gloves and a handkerchief to protect your face.
  • Tell someone when you leave and where you are going.
  • Choose a route away from fire hazards. Watch for changes in the speed and direction of fire and smoke.

For more information on wildfire preparedness and/or the proper procedures for outdoor burning in your area, visit http://BurnSafeTn.org.


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