On hand for Glenwood Acres Volunteer Fire Department’s presenation of their sign designating part of their area as a Fire Wise Community was (L to R) Texas Forest Service Business Associate Dian Melton, TFS Resource Specialist Kyle Dougan, Glenwood VFD Chief Terry Conyers, TFS Wildland Urban Interface Specialist Samuel McCalip, TFS Regional Fire Coordinator Josh Bardwell, TFS Resource Specialist Matt Burnett, TFS District Forester Tandy Wheeler, TFS Staff Forester Daniel Duncum, TFS Law Enforcement Investigator Jonathan Keller. Photo by Jim Bardwell
By Jim Bardwell
On Monday the Glenwood Acres Volunteer Fire Department became the only department in Upshur County to be designated as a “Fire Wise Community.”
Texas A&M Forest Service officials presented Glenwood Acres VFD Fire Chief Terry Conyers with signs designating part of his area as a “Fire Wise Community.”
The Fire Wise Program “teaches people how to adapt to living with wildfire and encourages neighbors to work together and take action now to prevent losses”
Conyers said he plans to help educate area residents as to the need to clear underbrush and make their homes less susceptible to wildfires. Glenwood Acres, like other East Texas rural areas where housing has encroached on nature, is a prime target for wildfire.
Every year, wildfires burn across the U.S., and more and more people are living where wildfires are a real risk. Nearly 45 million homes abut or intermingle with wildlands and more than 72,000 U.S. communities are now at risk. But by working together residents can make their own property – and their neighborhood – much safer from wildfire.
Here’s what to do before a wildfire threatens your area – in and around your home
* Clear leaves and other debris from gutters, eaves, porches and decks. This prevents embers from igniting your home.
* Remove dead vegetation and other items from under your deck or porch, and within 10 feet of the house. Learn more about the basics of defensible space on the Firewise website.
* Screen or box-in areas below patios and decks with wire mesh to prevent debris and combustible materials from accumulating.
* Remove flammable materials (firewood stacks, propane tanks) within 30 feet of your home’s foundation and outbuildings, including garages and sheds. If it can catch fire, don’t let it touch your house, deck or porch.
* Wildfire can spread to tree tops. Prune trees so the lowest branches are 6 to 10 feet from the ground.
* Keep your lawn hydrated and maintained. If it is brown, cut it down to reduce fire intensity. Dry grass and shrubs are fuel for wildfire.
* Don’t let debris and lawn cuttings linger. Dispose of these items quickly to reduce fuel for fire.
* Inspect shingles or roof tiles. Replace or repair those that are loose or missing to prevent ember penetration.
* Cover exterior attic vents with metal wire mesh no larger than 1/8 inch to prevent sparks from entering the home.
* Enclose under-eave and soffit vents or screens with metal mesh to prevent ember entry.
Learn more about how to protect your home and property at www.firewise.org or go to www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/By-topic/Wildfire/Firewise-USA
TFS Wildland Urban Interface Specialist Samuel McCalip said any community can apply to become a “Fire Wise Community,” simply give him or any TFS member a call.