What to be Aware of During Wildfire Season

Much of the damage wildfires cause is preventable.

By Michele Steinberg, Contributing Writer  
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: Facility Managers Face Year-Round Wildfire ChallengesPt. 2: This Page

All facility managers need to be aware of the prime conditions for wildfires. These include ongoing drought or dry periods, ongoing high temperatures, and windy conditions. These factors indicate that if there is an ignition that starts a fire — whether from sparking failed utility poles, embers from an unattended campfire, or even a gender reveal party gone awry — that fire is likely to spread and grow rapidly.  

In the case of an approaching wildfire, activate an emergency operations plan. This plan should include doing the following:  

  • Contact the fire service. Make sure you’re in contact with the fire department to receive updates and advice on whether staff should evacuate the premises or if it’s safer to stay indoors. Additionally, ensure any fire service coming to respond will have access to water and will not face any physical obstacles that take up precious time. Move cars, open gates, and unlock entryways as needed.  
  • Close any gaps. Close all vents, windows, and doors to prevent embers from getting inside the building. Be sure to also check your HVAC system to ensure there are no additional ways embers could get sucked inside.  
  • If you have time, address additional risks around the facility. Sometimes you’re lucky enough to get several hours’ notice before a fire approaches. In these cases, wet down areas close to the building and clear out things that can catch embers, such as lawn furniture, patio cushions, outdoor mats, tents, etc.  

Wildfires can strike at any time when the conditions are ripe, and falsely thinking the threat is contained to a season can leave facilities vulnerable to damage and destruction. It’s critical that managers are aware of prime wildfire conditions as well as best practice protection techniques.  

Strong preparation and response start with buildings, but staying in touch with the fire service is also integral. For free resources from the National Fire Protection Association on how to best prepare for wildfires, visit nfpa.org/wildfire. 

Michele Steinberg is the wildfire division director for the National Fire Protection Association. 

Continue Reading: Fire Safety

Facility Managers Face Year-Round Wildfire Challenges

What to be Aware of During Wildfire Season

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  posted on 3/23/2023   Article Use Policy

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