(Graphic | Courtesy of Bend Fire & Rescue)
Bend Fire & Rescue and the City of Bend are starting a wildfire preparedness campaign to empower the Bend Community with tools to create defensible space around their homes. Own Your Zone gives residents simple things they can do that will make a big difference to protect their home from the threat of wildfire.
Own Your Zone campaign is about personal responsibility to keep our community safe. It starts with one home but has the potential to save an entire neighborhood.
“The intent of this wildfire-preparedness campaign is to create actions people can do to create defensible space that can be adapted to communities across the country,” said Bend Fire & Rescue Deputy Chief Trish Connolly. “These actions are important not just for people who live in Bend, but for all places with the risk of wildfire.”
There are three zones of defensible space around any home. Own Your Zone lists simple things people can do in each of those zones to prepare for wildfires.
Zone 1 is the area zero to five feet around a home. This is the most important of all defensible space zones. The work you do in this zone is designed to keep embers from a fire from igniting flammable material on or around your home. There are five things people should do in Zone 1:
- Clean roof and gutters of pine needles and leaves
- Trim branches that touch a home’s roof
- Remove flammable vegetation (from around your house)
- Replace bark mulch with non-combustible material — such as decorative rock
- Move firewood away from the house and deck
Zone 2 is the area five to 30 feet around a home. There are three things to do in this Zone 2:
- Prune limbs and trees that are close to the ground
- Cut dead grass and weeds
- And remove vegetation from under trees
Zone 3 is the area 30 to 100 feet around a home. For those who have this zone, there is only one thing to do, which is to break up continuous fuels to create space between trees and brush.
Each of these actions in each zone is intended to be small enough and manageable enough to be completed in a weekend. This makes creating defensible space more manageable and gives people a way to prioritize the tasks from Zone 1 to Zone 3
“Most people don’t realize that over 50 percent of homes catch fire from fire embers that can travel up to one mile ahead of the main fire front,” said Connolly. “These embers have the potential of igniting vegetation on and near a home. If there is enough combustible material, these embers can easily start a fire.”
Wildfire is a natural occurrence in our Oregon forests. Our community has been threatened by wildfire in the past and, the truth is, will be in the future. Fire season continues to come earlier to our area every year. This year we have already seen tremendous fire activity and we are only in the beginning of July. Living with wildfire means everyone needs to take personal responsibility and actions to protect their home from the threat of wildfire.
You can find more information on Own Your Zone at ownyourzonebend.org. Information on this campaign in Spanish is currently being developed and will be available soon.
You can also hear more about Own Your Zone on the City of Bend’s podcast Inside Bend at bendoregon.gov/government/departments/communications/inside-bend-podcast.