Prepare Now for Fire Season

By Storm Smith, TVF&R

This winter continues to be exceptionally dry, making the upcoming fire season a concern. Enjoy this great weather for working outdoors, and at the same time make your property fire defensible.

Create a 30-foot safety zone around your home and outbuildings. Extend that zone to 100 feet on the downhill side if your home is on a slope. In this area, rake leaves, remove dead limbs, and clear all flammable vegetation. Prune tree branches and shrubs within 15 feet of stovepipe or chimney outlets. Clear a IO-foot area around propane tanks. Remove rubbish. Remove dead leaves and brush from underneath decks and crawlspaces. Store gasoline. oily rags and other flammable materials in approved safety cans. Stack firewood at least 100 feet way and uphill from your home.

To get more information, residents in the TVF&R district can contact TVF&R at 503-649-8577 for the pamphlets "Wildfire... Are You Prepared?" and "Wildfire Can Happen Here!" For those residents in the Scappoose Fire District, call 503-543-5026 and ask for the pamphlet, "Living With Fire, A Guide for the Homeowner."

Smoke Alarms

• A working smoke alarm should be on every level of the home, outside every sleeping area, and for maximum protection, one alarm in every bedroom.
• Check the batteries monthly or according to manufacturer s instructions.

Fire Escape Plan

• Create a fire escape plan with your family. Periodic practice eliminates panic.
• Know two ways out of every room in case the normal way is blocked by fire.
 • Be aware that small children can sleep so soundly that smoke alarms may not wake them .
• Designate a meeting place outside where everyone will gather. This eliminates confusion over whether everyone is out.

During a Fire

• NEVER go back into a burning structure.
• Call 911 once you are out.
• Cell phone technology may not provide 911 with your actual location, so be sure to give 911 operators an accurate address.
• Do not hesitate to call 911, even if the fire appears out. Fire crews can respond and use thermal imagers to check for extension of the fire into the sub-flooring, walls, or other hidden areas. Fans can be set up to help remove smoke from the home.
• Additionally, TVF&R would like to document smoke alarm "saves" so the incident data do not just show the failures.

Fire Extinguishers

• Most household-sized extinguishers will be exhausted in as little as 15-25 seconds and are for small fires.
• The most important place to locate the first extinguisher is near the entrance to the kitchen (where most fires occur) so you don t have to pass by the stove to get to it. Another location is by or under your bed. And a third is at the doorway between house and garage.
• Extinguishers with Metal Valves & Handles: Check the gauge monthly to make sure it is charged. It can be recharged at any fire extinguisher service company listed in the yellow pages.
• Extinguishers with Plastic Valve/Handles: Should not be recharged. When the gauge falls below the "full" mark. it should be replaced. The old one should be disposed of in the Metro Hazardous Household Waste system.
• Yearly shake the extinguisher a couple of times to ensure the powder contents remain loose.