Wildland-Urban Interface Fire Safety Tips

Fire is, and always has been, part of the dynamics of the attractive area you've chosen to live in. Much of the area within the City of Poway's borders is considered a high fire hazard environment. Fire is part of our natural ecology, as history demonstrates that fires have burned periodically throughout the city and adjacent areas. Today, all of the factors necessary to support large, intense, and uncontrollable fires remain. What's different is an increased population with an increase of homes in these so called "wildland urban interface" areas, sometimes with little regard to fire's threat. As human activity increases in these interface areas, the incident of fire activity increases as well. This has increased the risks of more and more disastrous fires causing huge losses and amplified the demands on firefighting resources.

There are things you can do to understand the threat and prepare for it. Every step you take in advance reduces risk to you, your family, and your home whether firefighters are available to help protect you or not. Through planning and preparation before a fire event, you can be ready for wildfire.

Surviving Wildfire
The keys to surviving wildfire are threefold. They are:
Wildfire Behavior
To better understand wildfire behavior, three basic components directly affect fire and these components affect the likelihood of fire starting, how fast it moves, it's intensity and difficulty to control.

Dry, hot, and windy weather increases the chances of a major wildfire. These conditions make ignition easier, help fuel burn more rapidly, and increase fire intensity. High wind speeds can transform a small, manageable fire into a disastrous event.

Fuel is a requirement for any fire to burn. In a wildfire, the fuels are usually living vegetation such as tress, shrubs, grasses, and dead plant materials. Homes, when in the path of wildfire, can also become fuel. The quantity, size, moisture content, arrangement, and other fuel characteristics will influence the ease of ignition, the rate of fire spread, the length of flames, and other associated fire behavior.

Topography (Terrain)
The feature of greatest interest is the steepness of slope, as this is among the most influential to fire behavior. The steeper the slope, the faster a fire will spread. The "aspect" of slope, or the orientation of slope to the sun's direct exposure is another important factor. For example, south and southwest slopes usually have more fires. With north facing slopes, these will have fewer occurrences of fires but may have greater fuel densities and fire behavior when ignited. Another important feature of the terrain is the presence of "chimneys" which are steep, narrow drainages which can speed the spread of fire due to preheating and funneling of winds within a localized area.