So far, 2022 has been a quiet and average year for wildfires, but Captain Rick Cooper doesn’t want to jinx it: the Uintah Fire was on an average year and a 40-acre fire at the gun range was on an average year. For these reasons, Captain Rick Cooper and his team are always on ready alert to handle even an “average day”. We sat down with Captain Cooper to get his tips on how Weber County residents can protect themselves and their properties from devastating fires.
1) Preventing a Wildfire Around your Home: When it comes to home protection, there are three categories to consider.
0-5 feet from your home:
• If you have a clean home and a clean yard, you should be in good shape. Keep in mind that leaf litter, pine litter, and wood stacks around the home are prime for heat traps and fire spreading. Be sure to also clean under your deck. As a rule of thumb, if it’s dead or down, get it away from your house.
• When it comes to parking any vehicles, UTVs, or ATVs, don’t park them next to the house on top of dry vegetation. Hot engines and dry grass will not mix well for the fire safety of your home.
5-30 feet from your home:
• Remove as many flammable trees and bushes as possible. Oak, Conifer, and Maple trees can burn easily, and oak trees can produce flames up to 25 feet in the air. As a good rule of thumb, make sure to remove branches up to about six feet in the air. Surprisingly to some, grass will burn a house down just as fast as trees will. Make sure any grass or weeds have been mowed down to about 2 inches.
30-100 feet from your home:
• Continue to remove the limbs up your trees to six feet. Remove all dead and down trees or branches. Consider reducing the number of trees in this area to reduce the severity of a canopy fire.
2) Fireworks: Do not light fireworks anywhere near dry vegetation, whether by your own house or your neighbors’ houses. Before you light the night sky, consider the worst-case scenario because, trust us, it can happen.
3) Campfires: Check for restrictions in the area. Bring a shovel and have enough water to completely drown that fire out when you are done. If you feel the heat on your hand, even after you put water on it, that fire is still too hot. Mix and stir before you leave, making sure you’ve broken down the embers inside. Bring an extra five gallons of water for putting the campfire out.
4) Shooting: If you are going to be out shooting, we have a simple rule: Do Not Shoot At Rocks. Do NOT bring exploding targets; bring soft targets. Weber County experienced a 40-acre fire last year, which required home evacuations, simply because someone was shooting at a rock.
5) Weed Eaters, Chainsaws, and Mowers: Do not use these items when the grass is dead and dry, as the metal parts of the blade will spark fast-spreading fires.
Above and beyond, enjoy recreating but play it safe! If you have any questions or would like the Weber Fire District to provide a free home assessment, please contact Captain Rick Cooper at 801-782-3580 ext 206.