Spring is here and so too is the threat of wildfires. Because of that, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is encouraging homeowners throughout the state to take steps now to lower fire risk and ensure a rapid fire response.
Home and cabin owners should review their property to make sure firefighters are able to find it and have access to it. Homeowners often count on emergency responders being there when they need them; when help is critical, seconds may mean the difference between life and death. A little time spent now, reviewing property and addressing needs, can help protect lives and property should a wildfire occur in the future.
Reviewing entrance roads should include making sure house numbers or E911/Fire Numbers are visible from all directions of travel and during both day and night. Landowners should remove branches or vegetation that might hide the number. They should make sure the house numbers or signs have sufficient lighting or reflect enough to make them visible at night.
In rural areas, access can be an important consideration as well. While most driveways and access roads easily accommodate personal vehicles, they may not be wide enough or have sufficient clearance for large fire trucks or ambulances.
Some considerations include:
• Driveways should have a 12-foot surface of a firm substance so that, even during rainfall, the surface can support the weight of a large fire truck loaded with water.
• Vegetation over the road should be pruned to a height of 14 feet.
• Long driveways more than 150 feet should have space near the midpoint to allow vehicles to pass.
• Long driveways must have a place for the large vehicles to turn around once they get to the end. Review the area around the buildings; make sure a vehicle more than 40 feet long can turn around.
• Every plan should consider that a gated driveway, locked or not, will slow down emergency responders. Homeowners need to weigh the value of keeping unwanted guests out against making sure needed services can get in.