Wildfire presents unique challenges to ranches and farms that typically do not apply to urban homeowners and neighborhoods. For example, farms and ranches often have multiple buildings, hay stacks, fuel storage tanks, livestock, limited water access, distant fire departments and are in close proximity to significant fuel loads. Sooner or later, most ranches and farms will be faced with an approaching wildfire. This publication provides suggestions on how to be prepared for wildfire if you live on a ranch, farm or rural setting.
The time to be thinking about protecting your home, barns, personal items and land is not as the fire is heading towards your property, but long before smoke is seen or smelled. Some properties have a higher risk for accidental fires, such as those located next to major highways, interstates or railroads. It is unreasonable to think there will be time to prepare property, livestock, equipment and family in the event of wildfire. Landowners should be aware that in the event a wildfire occurs under extreme weather conditions, there may not be enough time or resources available to protect homes and structures. This is especially true if mitigation steps, such as those described in this fact sheet, have not been implemented. It is up to the landowner to proactively make sure their home and buildings can survive a wildfire. With just a small amount of preparation work and annual maintenance, property can be made safer and better able to withstand wildfire.
Wildfires can occur at any time of the year; however, most occur during the dormant season or during periods of drought when fuels are dry. Fuel conditions, fuel loading, fuel arrangement, topography and weather conditions all affect the severity of wildfires. Of these factors, fuel loading and fuel arrangement around homes and structures can be changed or mitigated. There are no guarantees when facing a wildfire and not all of the methods listed in this document can or will completely protect your farm or ranch from every wildfire scenario. However, being prepared will increase the odds you and your family and property can survive a wildfire.
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