Prepare now for an early fire season


Last updated 3/1/2005 at Noon

While there may be some snow on the ground right now, it’s not too early to prepare for what could be an early and long wildfire season.

Sisters area residents are encouraged to start now to clean up yard debris around their properties.

That’s the advice from Dave Wheeler, fire marshal for the Sisters-Camp Sherman Rural Fire Protection District (RFPD).

“The low snow pack and below average rainfall so far this winter will likely mean an earlier than normal end to our local burning season this spring,” Wheeler said.

“Homeowners should start as soon as possible to get their yard debris piled to burn or be ready to haul it to landfills during the FireFree weekend May 7-8.”

During that weekend, fire district residents living outside of the City of Sisters can leave yard debris at the Fryrear Transfer Station at no cost, Wheeler explained.

Jefferson County residents can take their yard debris to the Camp Sherman transfer station at any time of the year while yard debris in the City of Sisters residents may be placed at the roadside for pickup every week throughout the year, he added.

FireFree is a tri-country educational fire prevention effort to advise residents of Deschutes, Jefferson and Crook counties to make their homes safe from wildfire, Wheeler said.

“It was originally sponsored by SAFECO Corporation in partnership with the Bend Fire Department and Deschutes County Rural Fire Protection District #2. Gradually, more Central Oregon fire districts have joined in to educate residents in their district.”

Residents can check their fire prevention readiness by asking themselves just 10 basic questions, Wheeler said:

1. Is there a minimum 30-foot combustible-free zone around my buildings?

2. Does my landscaping include fire-resistant plants?

3. Have I removed overcrowded and weakened trees and pruned low-hanging branches?

4. Do I keep grass and weeds consistently cut?

5. Are my woodpiles at least 30 feet from my buildings?

6. Have I cleaned pine needles and debris from roofs and decks?

7. Are local street signs and my address sign visible from the road?

8. Have I treated or replaced my shake roof?

9. Have I considered recycling my yard debris on FireFree weekend instead of burning it?

10. Do I have an emergency checklist to follow if wildfire threatens?

“If you can answer ‘yes’ to these questions, you have made a great start to keeping wildfires from destroying your home and property,” Wheeler said.

“If you add the requirement of having an open, accessible driveway to your home, you are also complying with the requirements of Senate Bill 360. That legislation encourages residents in the urban-wildland interface to protect themselves from wildfire through fuels reduction or face potential liability for extra costs.”

In the coming weeks, Wheeler will be contacting homeowner associations and other groups to promote the FireFree program.


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