Get Wild! About Fire Preparedness

Get Wild! About Fire Preparedness

Photo: Staff Sgt. Malcolm McClendon
36th Combat Aviation Brigade/DVIDS Defense Visual Information Service via Wikimedia Commons

The Wildfire Division of the Austin Fire Department will see an additional $900,000 in its coffers after an amendment co-sponsored by CM Flannigan passed at the city budget meeting on September 9. This money goes to three new full-time employees and fuel mitigation. “Fuel” for wildfires can include everything from dry grass to trees, underbrush, and even homes.

We don’t have to tell you that District 6 is vulnerable to wildfires. So, let’s get prepared!
September was National Preparedness Month, but why not keep up the momentum into October?

Here are some first steps toward wildfire preparedness:

•  SIGN UP  Click over to Warn Central Texas, an emergency notification system for residents of Central Texas, and sign up for alerts. The system allows your local county emergency response team to send alerts via text, phone call, and/or email. You can customize how you’ll receive your alerts as well as add multiple addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses. Warn CTX is a service provided bytes Capital Area Council of Governments (CAPCOG), which recommends following your local emergency response teams on Facebook and Twitter as well. Check out the resource pages for Travis and Williamson Counties for more details.

•  STOCK UP & MAKE A PLAN  Our local Austin Emergency Management provides lists that suggest what to include in a basic emergency supply kit, including enough food and water for 72 hours. The lists and other resources are a click away at AustinTexas.gov/HSEM. Also, the national version, Ready.gov has even more emergency preparedness tips, such as: Know evacuation routes, and have plans for pets and livestock. Be sure to have medications for yourself, children, and anyone in your care. Keep important documents in a fireproof safe and/or have digital copies saved. Much more information is available online.

•  DEFEND YOUR HOME  Now that you are prepared in case of wildfire emergency, you can take steps to protect your home from the risk of wildfire. The best way is to create a defensible space around your home. One way to do this is to clear flammable vegetation (such as weeds, tall grasses, and brush) and debris (like wood piles) within at least a 30-foot radius around your home.

The Wildfire Division may be able to come to your home or property and give you a wildfire risk assessment. You can reach them at 512-974-0270. More information on Wildfire prep for your home is included in the helpful links below.

For other steps and how you can get involved, Firewise USA works nationally and locally to encourage neighbors to work together to mitigate the spread of wildfire damage. Their website hosts fire prevention knowledge and includes a live chat option for any questions you might have!

If you could not make the September NWAC Town Hall, featuring Austin Fire Department, see what you missed!

Other helpful links:

ATXWildfire.org — Austin Fire Department Wildfire Division

Austin Wildfire Risk By District Compare/contrast by district, and see your level of risk

Defensible Space  Home Builder’s Guide to Construction in Wildfire Zones from FEMA

Ready, Set, Go!   Wildland Fire Action Guide from the Austin Division of Homeland Security

How to Prepare Your Home for Wildfires  from National Fire Protection Association