I'm not convinced... I don't need to do any of that stuff because...

"I'm Not Really At Risk", "It's Not My Responsibility!", "It Will Look Ugly", "It Will Cause Erosion", "That's What Insurance Is For", "It Will Take Too Much Time". If any of these comments sound like you, please read on.

I'm not really at risk!:

That may be true, but it may not be.
Why not find out for yourself. Call the Washington State Department of Natural Resources at 1-(360) 577-2025 to obtain a free home risk assessment booklet. You can find out once and for all if you are at risk and be done with it!

Its not my responsibility!

Actually, it is your responsibility. Make no mistake about it.
When a wildfire strikes, it overwhelms the local fire fighting resources very quickly. Within a few hours all of the fire engines and personnel will be committed. Reinforcements will be hours, if not days, away and there just aren't enough fire trucks to protect every home.
It's everyone's individual responsibility to take care of their own home so that it has a good chance of surviving without any intervention.

If your house is surrounded by brush and trees encroaching on the roads and buildings, no fire crew with an ounce of smarts is going to risk their lives to save it. If you haven't done your part, then there's nothing firefighters can do when they only have a few minutes to make a stand.

It will look ugly!

Actually most homeowners are delighted with their FireWise home and landscaping. In fact most and say that it looks like a park. No matter what your tastes are, there is a way to make your defensible space appealing and attractive.

Remember, defensible space does not mean clear cutting. Trees (not overhanging the chimney, pruned up 10-12 feet and separated from surrounding fuels) scattered around the home provide shade for the landscaping underneath which helps them retain water.

In most cases, you don't have to take out your privacy screen; just make sure that the home has enough separation from it that if it caught on fire, it wouldn't threaten your home.

I don't want to clear-cut my yard!

You don't have to! Trees can be a perfectly compatible part of your defensible space. Trees provide shade to the surrounding landscaping which will help retain moisture which helps retard fires.

Any trees around your home need should be thinned so that the tips of the branches are 10 feet from the tips of the tree next to it. Prune trees up to a height 3 times higher than the tallest brush. Generally this is 10-12 feet. Make sure that the branches of your trees are not overhanging your chimney. This is not only a good fire prevention practice; it also helps extend the life of your roof and gutters.

I like the screen!

Great! Don't cut your screen down! Just make sure that there is 30 feet of defensible space between you and the privacy screen. If that's not possible then there are alternatives: Move! (just kidding).

Consider under planting your privacy screen with a fire resistant species that can eventually replace the existing vegetation which would then be removed. For example, if you have an existing screen of a coniferous hedge, plant large spreading rhododendrons in a line next to them. When the rhododendrons get large enough cut the conifers down. The Rhododendrons are evergreens so they provide screening even in the winter AND you will have flowers in the spring!

It'll cause erosion?

Probably not. Many FireWise plants are also northwest natives. They are generally low maintenance, beautiful, and prevent erosion. To find out where to get these plants contact the Clark County Specialty Nursery Association to find a nursery near you that specializes in native and FireWise plants. Contact them at 360-263-8890.

That's what insurance is for!

True enough, however, insurance companies are starting to change their policies. Already one major company has threatened to change pull homeowner's insurance policies if they don't take steps to protect their home from wildfire or refuse to cover the homes of people who have lost their homes in the past. Besides, if you let your home catch on fire, it could threaten other homes in your neighborhood or community.

Be a good neighbor...prepare your home

It'll take too much time!

It might take some time and effort, but it's worth it! Depending on how much brush you have around your home it could take some work, and some time - maybe a whole weekend. Your work is an investment in your home. A FireWise home is safer, insurable, and looks great.

Also, after you FireWise your home it may make your roof, gutters, decks and siding last longer. "How" You ask? By reducing the amount of vegetation overhanging your home you are increasing the air flow to your roof, siding and gutters (which inhibits algae and moss growth). It also reduces the amount of leaf litter in your gutters and on your decks.

Work with a neighbor. Go in together to rent equipment to make the work go faster.