Boise services help homeowners prepare for wildfires

Western Wildfires
Posted at 4:45 PM, Jul 27, 2021

BOISE, Idaho — It's already shaping up to be a busy wildfire season. While the wildfires in Idaho are currently up north, Boise Fire is encouraging people in the Treasure Valley to be prepared.

There are things you can do today to make sure you’re ready for a fire closer to home. One of them is to schedule a free home evaluation to help identify fire risks on your property.

“We’ll come out to their home, point out ignition vulnerabilities—not only on the structure but with the vegetation around the house and provide them prescriptive measures on how to reduce their risk from wildfire,” said Jerry McAdams, fire mitigation specialist.

McAdams said it can take a week or two to get scheduled, but the evaluation itself should take about 45 minutes to an hour. Once you’ve had that evaluation, you can also take advantage of the free chipping service.

“If the homeowners are reducing hazardous biomass, like juniper, arborvitae, that sort of thing, they can cut it, haul it to the curb, we’ll come by and chip it for you for free,” McAdams said.

Another tip to protect your home is to use firewise landscaping. This means using certain plants and certain principles that won’t create fuel for a fire.

"What we're trying to do is manipulate the fire's behavior as it's approaching the home and try to get it to be at least just on the ground and keeping things short and keeping it out of tree canopies," Brett Van Paepegham from Idaho Firewise said.

There are also some steps you can take right now to prepare your home.

“Switching out bark mulch with rock mulch, cleaning up pine needle debris and leaf litter away from your house,” McAdams said.

Another action you can take right away is going to any "outer periphery areas that might have any cheatgrass, medusahead and those invasive annual grasses that are in that more naturalized area, getting them line-trimmed down, getting it raked up and out of there," Van Paepegham said.

McAdams said this is especially important for those living in the Wildland-Urban Interface, that’s everywhere in blue on the map below.

Wildland Urban interface

You can find an interactive version of this map by clicking here.

McAdams and Van Paepegham agree, using firewise principles is important for everyone.

“Even inner city we have areas that are near steep hillsides, we have benches within Boise that have steep hillsides with cheatgrass growing on them," Van Paepegham said.

McAdams said a lot of homeowners think they're safe, but that's not necessarily true.

"Most houses that are lost during a wildfire scenario are lost by embers landing on ignitable material."

Boise Fire is also encouraging everyone to sign up for the Ada County code red notification system. This will send you an alert about wildfires and other emergencies. You can sign up by clicking here.

To schedule an evaluation appointment for your home, click here.