A Fire Wise Training session was held in the Hoppe Room of the Blanco County Courthouse on July 20- 21. The training was presented to Master Gardeners by the Texas Forest Service and AgriLife Extension in cooperation with Texas A & M Universities. Those attending were Master Gardeners from Blanco, Travis, Hays Counties, Abilene, and a member from Johnson City Volunteer Fire Department. The presenters were Mary Kay Hicks, Patrick Allen, Mark Wobus, and Robert Edmonson from the Tx Forest Service. Both the Johnson City and Round Mountain Volunteer Fire Department had representatives and presentation.
Here is a sampling of what we learned: Wildfire has no boundaries. It can strike any time but the highest danger comes with drought conditions, such as we are experiencing now. So what does that mean? Think about what starts a campfire, leaves, small sticks/ twigs, paper, cloth etc. – small combustible materials. The simple act of removing the little campfire makers off your roofs, gutters, patios, porches, decks and around the base of your house can make a difference. Trees that overhang your roof should be your first major project. Take a look at your house surroundings and look closely at dead or overgrown bushes or vines that lead into trees. If wooden fences touch your house, it is considered to be part of your house. Do they have a lot of dead leaves built up around them? Remove them. Green is good unless they are plants that contain a lot of oil, such as rosemary and many herbs. This does not mean you should not have them; only placement is important.
There is a program called READY SET GO. READY means make your property defensible with a FireWise Landscape for the firefighters. Prepare in advance at the remote possibility of fire. SET means to plan evacuation for leaving your house, keeping the five Ps in mind. People, pets, pills, photos and papers are at the top of the list. Photos and papers can be set aside while preparing the outside. Have it ready for getting out fast. GO means –GET OUT. Do not wait for emergency personnel to tell you to leave. Your family and pets are more important than things, even irreplaceable things. On the way out the door, turn on the house lights, turn off the air conditioner, leave the house unlocked, and open that wooden fence gate by the house. Know where you are going to go and where to find your family if they are not with you. Cell phones do not always work if the wildfire is widespread.
From the Texas Forestry website, located at txforestservice.tamu.edu, you can access a number of helpful sites that will help you. On www.texaswildfirerisk.com you can find your own home in an aerial view (use the public viewer tab). Or you can go to www.firewise.org for information.
Master Gardeners are available for FireWise Landscape presentations to civil groups, clubs, organizations, and home owner associations. Please contact the AgriLife Extension office at 830-868-7176 and provide your name contact information date needed and time for the presentation.
Master Gardeners are holding a Fall Education Day at the Blanco County Fair Grounds on October 20, 2012 our presentations are FireWise, Propagation, Rain Water Harvesting/Irrigation, and Earth Kind Roses/Pruning Techniques. The cost will be $15 with a lunch provided. Please call the AgriLife Extension office at 830-868-7176 if you are interested.