Shady Cove neighborhood meets state standard for Firewise program

A year later and after much planning and work, a section of Shady Cove, referred to as “Neighborhood 1,” has met Oregon Senate Bill 360 and Firewise standards, according to Firewise Board Chair, Paula Trudeau. The National Firewise Communities Program is a multi-agency effort involving homeowners, community leaders, developers and others to protect people, property and natural resources from the risk of wildfires—before a fire starts. The focus is on community responsibility.

Neighborhood 1 encompasses Cleveland (along the school) and goes to the north boundary of the city. In that section, residents worked to clear at least 80 percent of flammable materials from the neighborhood. They learned about the program through brochures distributed by the Firewise group, said Trudeau, a career employee of the U.S. Forest Service and founder of the local Firewise group.

The evaluation of the completed work was done by Brian Ballou, Oregon Department of Forestry, and Fire District 4 Chief Bob Miller. Ballou is now officially documenting the compliance and will then apply to the state and the national Firewise program for certification. Miller, a strong advocate of Firewise said, “It’s important to get the work done and done right.” Miller also complimented the City of Shady Cove on the wonderful progress made in weed abatement contributing to a lower risk of fire in the city.   

State Bill 360 was written to address the fire protection needs of a Wild-land Urban Interface. If a community complies with the senate bill and is certified to be Firewise, property owners are relieved from the liability of cost-recovery created in the Fire Protection Act, according to Trudeau. Cost recovery measures take effect on properties that are within a Forestland-Urban Interface but do not have a certification form on file with the Department of Forestry. In this situation, the State of Oregon may seek fire cost reimbursement from a property owner if a fire occurs on the property and the state spends more than routine fire suppression costs.

Not only Shady Cove but the entire Upper Rogue is prime terrain for wildfires with its many trees, said Trudeau. Some steps to improve a “home ignition zone” (within 100 to 200 feet of a house and surrounding area) include: stacking firewood 30 feet from a house; not storing combustible materials under a deck; removing all combustible vegetation 30 feet from a structure; removing branches that hang over dwellings, are within 15 feet of a chimney or are dead. For trees over 12 feet high, prune branches 6 to 10 feet from the ground.

Within five feet of a structure use nonflammable landscaping materials such as rock, pavers, annuals and high-moisture content perennials. Select low-growing plants that are free of resins, oils or waxes that cause them to burn easily. Keep gutters, decks and other areas free of leaves and pine needles.

When constructing a house, consider using non-combustible materials such as stucco, brick and fiber cement siding. Roof materials recommended include Class-A asphalt roof shingles, clay tile or slate roofing materials.

Applicable to Shady Cove is a guide for emergency water sources including: a cooperative emergency storage tank with neighbors; a minimum supply of 2,500 gallons for a property; and a community water/hydrant system. All emergency water sources should be clearly marked and offer easy access for firefighters. Homeowners with wells should have emergency generators, said Trudeau. Following Firewise guidelines, residents can greatly increase the chances their home will withstand a wildfire.

Now that the first neighborhood has qualified for Firewise designation, a second neighborhood in the northwest quadrant of Shady Cove is also about to achieve qualification, said a pleased Trudeau. She added the Firewise group will go neighborhood by neighborhood to reach the goal of making the whole city of Shady Cove a Firewise community. More information is online at www.firewise.org. and www.shadycovefire.com. Or call Miller at Fire District 4 —541-878-2666.
By Margaret Bradburn
Of the Independent

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