The warm weather may bring with it promises of pools and picnics and trips to the beach, but as things warm up and dry out it also brings with it increased risk of wildfire. May 3 is National Wildfire Community Preparedness Day, and the National Fire Protection Association is urging facility managers everywhere to do their part to ensure that the only thing that spreads in the heat is fire safety.
Preparation begins with understanding
It may seem strange to think about, but despite how massive and imposing wildfires are, they can be - and often are - started by the smallest of catalysts. Campfires, cigarettes and fireworks all may seem innocuous, but these are some of the most common causes of wildfires, according to Discovery. In fact data from the National Park Service reported that 90 percent of wildfires are started by people, most of them simply out of carelessness.
Of course, Mother Nature certainly cops to her fair share of responsibility when it comes to wildfires. Wayward lightning strikes are one of the biggest culprits, but it doesn't take anything more dramatic than a really hot sun beating down on very dry leaves to spark a blaze. Once wildfires start, they can be very difficult to fight or contain - Discovery reported that they can move as quickly as 14 mph - so your best bet is to try and keep them from ever happening.
Steps you can take
One of the biggest things you can do to help prevent wildfire is to engage in simple groundskeeping. Fire loves hot, dry foliage, underbrush and leaves, so your prime directive should be to clear your grounds of any dead leaves. Keeping grass watered and free of fallen or dead tree branches should become a standard part of your daily building maintenance.
While pruning brown, dead grass from your lawn is important, if your facility is located in a windy area you may have an unseen threat in airborne embers to contend with. The NFPA recommends inspecting and shielding openings in your building such as roof shingles, eaves troughs and gutters with wire mesh, one-eighth of an inch or smaller to prevent any embers from blowing through gaps in the construction and bringing the flames inside.
Of course, the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray, and even if you take all the necessary precautions disaster may still strike. Make sure you have an effective evacuation plan in place, including a clear escape route that is known to everyone in the building, and practice with regular drills so nobody gets caught hotfooted.