Take matters into your own hands to reduce your risk.
Some residents believe the tasks they need to do to reduce their home's wildfire risk are too big or too difficult for them to handle on their own. You may see mitigation priorities listed on your home assessment and wonder how you'll ever get them done or "I'm not qualified to do that." For example: clear gutters of debris, remove any flammable items within 5 feet of the house, prune shrubs and tree limbs, thin vegetation close to home. A lot of these tasks can be completed by a resident within an afternoon with the right tools!
If it's tools that you lack to start tackling your mitigation projects, our organization has a wildfire mitigation tool cache stocked with tools to use specifically for mitigation work. We currently have these items in our cache:
4 leaf blowers with gutter cleaning attachments
1 pole saw (extends to 14 feet)
4 hand saws
PPE: helmets, gloves, ear and eye protection
If you or your community are planning a work day, consider borrowing some of these tools to complete the work. The tools in the cache are free for residents to use to complete mitigation tasks within our 8-county region: Madison, Buncombe, Henderson, Transylvania, McDowell, Rutherford, Polk, and Cleveland Counties. Simply email your request to firstname.lastname@example.org with tools needed, name, address, phone number, and project date.
If an individual resident is requesting the tools, we will ask for them to pick them up at our office in Marshall, NC. If a resident and a couple neighbors (or the whole community) would like to use the tools, we will delivery them to a spokesperson for free.
Tips on which tools to use for which mitigation projects
Although initially looking at all the things you need to do, there are many tasks that are quick and easy to complete to reduce their risk! Check out the Firewise USA Program's website on how to prepare your home in each home ignition zone.
The key is to start with tasks at your front door (immediate zone) instead of trying to tackle the forest first. Focus on reducing risk in the first 5 feet of your home in the first year. This is the most important zone!
"Clean gutters of debris" = leaf blower with gutter attachment
"Remove any flammable items within 5 feet of the house" = leaf blower or rake
"Prune shrubs at least 5 feet from the house" = hand saw, loppers
"Thin vegetation close to home" = for smaller trees, saplings, and shrubs use hand saw and loppers
Once you've completed tasks within the immediate zone, start working out further, say 5 to 30 feet from the home (intermediate zone).
"Remove overhanging limbs within 10 feet of the home" = pole saw (and a helmet!)
"Move firewood at least 30 feet from home" = wheelbarrow
"Clear vegetation at least 10 feet from propane tank" = loppers, handsaw, rake
"Remove ladder fuels (vegetation under trees) within 30 feet of home" = loppers, handsaw, pole saw
Once you've worked within 30 feet of your home, start mitigating risks in the extended zone, 30 to 100 feet from the home.
"Remove small trees growing between mature trees" = handsaw, loppers
"Remove vegetation adjacent to storage sheds" = handsaw, loppers
"Trim overhanging branches within 14 feet of driveway (vertical)" = pole saw
When projects get too tough or too big (e.g. felling trees), then it's time to call in a professional. Our cost-share assistance program can help pay for these services.
The work that you do is of value not only to you and the safety of your home, but it is also assists your local fire department and other personnel protecting your home during a wildfire. The more work you do to prepare your home ahead of time, the more time they can focus on fighting the fire.