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elle sagenev
Posts: 1282
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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So Wyoming has been on fire a lot this year. Seems like a lot of areas have been. I know in my area shooting causes a lot of fires. This is Wyoming and we like our guns. All our neighbors shoot. We aren't big shooters, though we have guns and have shot things. Anyway, the question is, how would you protect your property from fire in a permaculture way?
 
Alder Burns
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Location: northern California
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I don't know about WY, but here in fire-prone CA there is an extensive set of guidelines about land management in view of fire danger. Essentially, a significant area around all structures and other areas of value needs to be "fuel-reduced".....grass mowed or grazed short, especially when dry; trees thinned and lower branches removed and underbrush cleared (so that a ground fire cannot "ladder" up and become a more destructive crown fire. Plant selection is also important.....anything resinous or aromatic is going to be much more flammable.....conifers and eucalypts are therefore much worse than leafy, deciduous trees. Keeping everything in the fire-safe zone well irrigated and reducing brush and mulch piles and firewood piles and such like....or moving these outside of the safe zone. Building materials that are more fire proof make a big difference too.....no wooden shingles or siding, enclose the space under decks and balconies since fires come with wind that blows embers into such places. And, yes, this is not myth, I have actually seen a fire start from a bottle of water left out in the sun!
 
Alder Burns
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If you are settling on raw land, then designing with fire in mind from the very start would be hugely beneficial. Most landscapes have one or more fire sectors, usually aligned with where hot dry winds usually blow, or else with human sources like roads. Siting houses and driveways (which can serve as a firebreak for low ground fires, water features, and earthworks can all have a big influence. Buildings on hilltops are a very bad thing both for fire and water!
 
elle sagenev
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Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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Our land is quite settled. I suppose the good thing is that our driveway is on the wind side of our house. So there is that for fire protection. I think we were wondering if there was a way to protect the whole property. Like a road or moat or something clear around. Plus if we got a moat I'd probably become quite fabulous, or insane, it's up in the air.


I laughed at pines and such being a bad tree choice. It's the main one for tree lines around these parts and ours is 4 lines deep in pines. Bugger it all!
 
Alder Burns
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I think that statistically, more structures are lost to ember fallout and wind-driven embers than to the actual direct spread of flames. Burning trees will generate updrafts that will suck up large amounts of glowing embers that are then dropped out in quantity, sometimes at a significant distance away from or in front of the main fire. These land on roofs, fill up gutters, blow into windows and under decks and into ventilation openings. Sometimes, in sites that are mostly forested, they can accumulate to a depth of inches. No firebreak on the ground is going to deal with that.
Having someone on-site, and some advance notice makes a lot of difference, as well as some good sprinklers that can run off-grid (generator?) if the fire takes out power lines, that can soak the roof and all around the space. Start them running well in advance of the fire......
 
Dale Hodgins
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A roof covered in soil, could prevent much of the damage that occur each year. Adobe houses present very few opportunities for fire to damage them.

Areas overrun with sage brush are particularly flammable.
 
Will Meginley
Posts: 115
Location: Concord, New Hampshire
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Firewise.org is a really good resource and the "gold standard" I would use, personally. Not at all unfriendly to permaculture if you put some thought and common sense into it. I wouldn't recommend deviating from the advice listed without a solid understanding of fire behavior and the combustion process.

On that front, Erica Wisner made a very good post in the fire safety PEP1 thread a few months back. I've been meaning to add more to that discussion for a while now, but have been rather busy on several fronts this summer. When I do add stuff it will probably be to that thread, because it would take me forever just to catch this thread up with that one - let alone add to it. For what follows, this simple mini-lesson will suffice:

The combustion process requires three inputs to begin and sustain itself: oxygen, heat, and fuel. Take away any one of these three things and the process stops. All forms of firefighting are methods of removing one or more of them. Spraying water on a fire removes heat. Digging or bulldozing firelines around a fire removes fuel. Aerial fire retardant removes both if applied correctly. Oxygen removal really isn't effective except in confined spaces that can be closed off. (And woe be unto you if you are caught therein!) Halon fire extinguishers inside aircraft engine compartments are one such system. As a permaculturist, you have the most control over heat and fuel. (Through irrigation and design/"yard hygiene," respectively.)

elle sagenev wrote:Anyway, the question is, how would you protect your property from fire in a permaculture way?


The best way for you to protect your property from fire the permaculture way is to design your landscape in such a way that NO ONE has to do ANYTHING to protect it, except check in on it every once in a while to make sure nothing is going wrong. You cannot depend on anyone being home and , frankly, if you are not a trained firefighter we don't WANT you home. I said it in the other thread and I will re-emphasize it here. Firefighting is NOT (underlined five times in blood-red ink) a DIYer-friendly activity. If you want to help fight fire on your own land join your local VFD or prescribed fire council and get the proper training. Otherwise grab your emergency bag and GO. If you don't, at minimum you waste our time convincing you to leave and/or babysitting you. At worst you do something stupid and get yourself killed before we even show up. If you followed the firewise guidelines your land will pretty much defend itself - that's what they were designed for. The fact that so many people don't follow them is what makes our job increasingly difficult with each passing year.

Others have already given you suggestions on how to design your landscape. Everything listed here so far has been solid advice for the most part. Most of Alder's suggestions are very similar to the firewise recommendations. I wouldn't be surprised if that's where they came from.

elle sagenev wrote:Our land is quite settled. I suppose the good thing is that our driveway is on the wind side of our house. So there is that for fire protection. I think we were wondering if there was a way to protect the whole property. Like a road or moat or something clear around. Plus if we got a moat I'd probably become quite fabulous, or insane, it's up in the air.


First, a question. Do you need to defend the whole property, or just the buildings and gardens? What type of fuels do you have? (short grass, tall grass, brush, forest? How much dead, woody material is lying around?)

Depending on the fuels, a simple dirt foot path 18 - 36 inches wide might be sufficient to stop a ground fire. Wind-blown embers won't even waste the time to laugh at that, which is where irrigating the zone immediately around the home, "yard hygiene," and building materials come into play.

elle sagenev wrote:I laughed at pines and such being a bad tree choice. It's the main one for tree lines around these parts and ours is 4 lines deep in pines. Bugger it all!


Pines in and of themselves are not bad at all. Nor are other conifers like spruce and fir. The key is not to have them too close to the house, and - more importantly - not to have any branches lower than 8ft from the ground. They ARE more apt to cause severe fire behavior if fire gets into the crown than most broadleaf trees, which I think was Alder's point.

Alder Burns wrote:I think that statistically, more structures are lost to ember fallout and wind-driven embers than to the actual direct spread of flames.


Correct. The biggest culprits are firewood stacks, leaves in gutters, seat cushions on patio furniture, and door mats. If you're following the firewise guidelines, your house should never receive direct flame contact. If you aren't, one of these things will catch on fire and then your house WILL receive direct flame contact - but not from the wildfire.

Dale Hodgins wrote:A roof covered in soil, could prevent much of the damage that occur each year. Adobe houses present very few opportunities for fire to damage them.


A living roof will burn like any other field of grass, but the underlying soil would insulate most of the rest of the house from the heat. I'd still be worried about wind eddying embers down from the roof against the walls, onto the patio, or into open windows. Adobe and other masonry materials are indeed about as safe as you can get, from a fire protection standpoint. And for the love of all things holy, don't use wood shingle siding/roofing in a fire prone area unless you're comfortable with the idea of a "disposable house" - because that's what you're creating. Hell, even asphalt tiles would be better than wood shingles. (One of the few reasons I would ever have for saying so)

Dale Hodgins wrote:Areas overrun with sage brush are particularly flammable.


Agreed. Under the right conditions, I've seen 3ft sage brush fields produce 200+ ft flame lengths. Chaparral and palmetto thickets are other deceptively flammable areas. Which reminds me of one suggestion that might not readily occur to most permaculturists. I know it's very convenient to have the herbs close to the kitchen door. However, most herbs from the Mediterranean region come from VERY fire prone areas. The oils/chemicals that make them so aromatic and flavorful also make them highly flammable. Think of them as the sage brush of southern Italy. If you keep them near the house, keep them at least 10-15 ft from the house on the downwind side - preferably on the other side of a stone patio - and keep them trimmed well back.
 
Meryt Helmer
Posts: 395
Location: west marin, bay area california. sandy loam, well drained, acidic soil and lots of shade
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there is a book that was written more for the part of california where I live but it has lots of good information on how to landscape to provide the most protection for fire it is called
Firescaping by Douglas Kent

as far as living roofs go I would not plant a lawn on a roof but sedums instead or other plants that hold a lot of moisture and resist burning. you can plant a moat of cactus or nastursium, a plant that is to wet to burn well and it can provide some protection. the book firescaping reminds me of permaculture in that it takes the idea of zones but then uses plants for each zone based on how flammable it is rather than use for food. the ideas work well together.

I also like fire mimicry but doing a search I find other things also called fire mimicry. I first learned about trying to imitate what would happen if fire was not suppressed from here https://suddenoaklifeorg.wordpress.com/category/fire-mimicry/page/9/
 
Will Meginley
Posts: 115
Location: Concord, New Hampshire
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That's good information Meryt. Would you mind posting that in the PEP1 thread as well? Or allowing someone else to quote it there?
 
Alder Burns
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I can see the point about evacuating from a regional fire, where there is advance warning, but my main danger here is from the road not far from the house. A fire from that sector (a cigarette butt, a trailer chain dragging sparks, etc.) will be up the bank and in our front yard in a heartbeat.....way faster than the fire department can get here and perhaps even faster than we could get the car out. So the main gardens and the fruit trees are out there, and the woodchip pile and wood shed even further out, sprinklers on the roof, and a generator...
 
Will Meginley
Posts: 115
Location: Concord, New Hampshire
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Alder Burns wrote:I can see the point about evacuating from a regional fire, where there is advance warning, but my main danger here is from the road not far from the house. A fire from that sector (a cigarette butt, a trailer chain dragging sparks, etc.) will be up the bank and in our front yard in a heartbeat.....way faster than the fire department can get here and perhaps even faster than we could get the car out. So the main gardens and the fruit trees are out there, and the woodchip pile and wood shed even further out, sprinklers on the roof, and a generator...


If you water your gardens and lawn they will not burn readily. (The water in the plants must be boiled off before they will combust, which reduces heat.) If you practice good yard hygiene there will be little to burn. If you maintain a 3ft buffer of bare soil, gravel, or pavement that is free of weeds around it, your wood chip pile and woodshed are safe from anything except blowing embers. And really, how expensive is it to replace a pile of wood chips? Certainly less expensive than pretty much any medical bill, I would think. A layer of gravel in the 3ft immediately adjacent to the house and other structures would also be good practice.

This brings up another good point, however. You may not be able to get out. Perhaps the fire is blocking the only road out of your neighborhood, or even your driveway. For such an eventuality you also need at least one (more is better) "safety zone," which is an area where a human being can survive the passage of a fire without the aid of protective devices or clothing. Ideally this would be somewhere free of fuel but that seldom ever happens, so somewhere open with short grass or other stuff that burns mildly and doesn't give off much residual heat afterwards will work. Meadows and flood plains work very well. Rock screes and avalanche chutes can also be possibilities. The exact size these zones need to be is highly variable, based on the local fuels and weather. The textbook answer is that, at minimum, if you're standing in the middle of the safety zone the distance between you and the edge of the safety zone should be 4x the expected flame height. That's for flat ground. If you're on a slope you need even more distance on the downhill side to protect against convective heat. Obviously, to know the expected flame height you have to have a pretty good understanding of fire behavior. Your best bet would be to contact your local fire authorities and find out what they would recommend. This area doesn't necessarily need to be on your property, but you have to be able to get to it quickly. On foot. Having a backup safety zone is also good, because nothing guarantees the route to your primary safety zone won't be blocked, either. (Particularly if it's down the road on a neighbor's land)

Either way, my advice still stands: If you can't put it out within the first 2-3 minutes with a shovel and a garden hose GO SOMEWHERE ELSE. To a safety zone, out of the neighborhood, wherever. It's just stuff. People might be worth dying for, but no stuff will ever be. And if there are little people in the house worth dying for, drop the hose and take them to the safety zone - because they won't be smart enough to go there themselves when you get burned over.
 
elle sagenev
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Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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Will Meginley wrote:

First, a question. Do you need to defend the whole property, or just the buildings and gardens? What type of fuels do you have? (short grass, tall grass, brush, forest? How much dead, woody material is lying around?)

Depending on the fuels, a simple dirt foot path 18 - 36 inches wide might be sufficient to stop a ground fire. Wind-blown embers won't even waste the time to laugh at that, which is where irrigating the zone immediately around the home, "yard hygiene," and building materials come into play.


Eventually I would like the whole property protected. I am in the process of planting a U-pick and if those trees burn part of my heart will burn with them, plus years of my life.

The house is obviously the biggest priority. It's cement siding and a metal roof so it should be fairly ok at suppressing flames. I wouldn't count on it not lighting up but it's as good as it's likely to get. The acres around us are my biggest concern. I can't water them all and I don't. Too many and I don't have the water rights.

I suppose the good thing about my area is there is a huge lack of trees. It's mostly tree lines around houses, and my orchard, of course. Other than that it's wheat fields and dead grass.
 
Michael Newby
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Elle, in that scenario I would try to have an access road that basically ran the perimeter of the property, thereby giving you a firebreak against direct flame contact from a neighbors grass fire and easy access for firefighters. If space allows, another road or even just a foot path that ran outside the perimeter of any other areas that you were most concerned with protecting would help, too.

If you can keep the area around the house green/irrigated that will go a long ways to help avoid the chance of an ember starting a fire directly next to the house. If you can't keep that area green then I would look into xeriscaping (big buzz word here in fire-prone CA) or basically dryland landscaping with lots of succulents, drought resistant shrubs/trees and usually lot's of stone or gravel.

Rows of trees can actually be a good thing if they are perpendicular to the wind and don't have a big fuel-load in/below them (dead leaves/needles, branches, etc). They can help slow the winds and absorb a lot of the wind blown embers but once again, that's only if they're the right trees in the right place. Done wrong you could create a wind tunnel that is funneling all the wind and embers and fire right at your house!
 
Will Meginley
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elle sagenev wrote:
Eventually I would like the whole property protected. I am in the process of planting a U-pick and if those trees burn part of my heart will burn with them, plus years of my life.


Am I to assume from this statement that the U-pick will eventually take up the entire property? Later on you mention that you don't have the water rights to irrigate all your acres. I took that to mean that the orchard will only be on a portion of your property. If so, what's on the rest of the property that needs protecting? Dead grass? Fire can't kill dead grass. Fire doesn't kill any grass, period. It'll be resprouting from the roots within a month. An access road around your property couldn't hurt, but why go to the time and expense of putting one in if fire control is its only function? Seems to me, though, that an access road around the orchard and buildings would be very useful for multiple reasons, including fire control. Only worry about protecting the acreage with high-value stuff on it. Let zone 5 do what zone 5 is going to do. Fire is actually good for grasslands, as many a cattle rancher could tell you.

As for the orchard itself: I assume you'll be irrigating the whole thing, as I've never been to or heard of anywhere in Wyoming that gets enough annual precip. to grow fruit trees without irrigation. That should help considerably. I was on a fire last year in central Washington where the only places that didn't burn were the irrigated fruit orchards. Depending on the size of your trees, I would limb them up at least 3ft from the ground once they reach a sufficient size. Never remove branches to the point that the crown takes up less than half the tree's height. 5 - 8ft would be better, but obviously that's not gonna happen with dwarf trees. Keep the ground cover underneath the trees low - 6" to 1' max. You practically have to force short, wet forbs/grasses to burn, but a layer of weed-free gravel around the base of each tree would give even more protection.

elle sagenev wrote:The house is obviously the biggest priority. It's cement siding and a metal roof so it should be fairly ok at suppressing flames. I wouldn't count on it not lighting up but it's as good as it's likely to get. The acres around us are my biggest concern. I can't water them all and I don't. Too many and I don't have the water rights.


Sounds like you're pretty set on that front. Your biggest areas of concern would be underneath the eaves (especially if the screening covering any of your roof vents has been broken or removed for whatever reason), and any wooden decking. The wooden decking itself is not so much the problem - it's the cloth-covered patio furniture and welcome mats and other more readily flammable stuff that tends to be sitting on the decking. They catch first, then catch the decking, which then catches the door frame or window frame or something else, which then catches the house. From your description of the area I doubt you have to worry about crud in the gutters much, but that's a primary area of concern for most people as well. Make sure all windows and doors are closed when you're away.

elle sagenev wrote:I suppose the good thing about my area is there is a huge lack of trees. It's mostly tree lines around houses, and my orchard, of course. Other than that it's wheat fields and dead grass.


Unfortunately, I can't think of much you can do about your windbreaks without impeding their function. If you have the time, you might rake the leaf litter out from under them and mow around the edges to reduce the possibility that they'll torch out. Unless you only have an acre or two that would be quite a chore, though. Are your windbreaks irrigated? That could help.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Here is something interesting, a plant that can be used as fire suppressant, or fire break. It is a nutritious forage plant, providing good protein source in winter when it is hardest for grazers and browsers to find it.

The plant is called forage kochia, or prostrate kochia. It is a perennial with "fleshy" leaves and thrives in climates receiving 6 inches of precipitation per year.

follow the link to find out more!

https://greatbasinseeds.com/wordpress/product/forage-kochia/

Thekla
 
Will Meginley
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Interesting. Anything that will out-compete cheat grass is a winner in my book!
 
Raven Sutherland
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cistern basics: 101 for fire supression
top of the hill with inline pump and fire hose

how big? gallons... to do the job?
it's on my list to do !
plastic liner real thick sold in calif.
cement block surrounded
 
Will Meginley
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Raven Sutherland wrote:cistern basics: 101 for fire supression
top of the hill with inline pump and fire hose

how big? gallons... to do the job?
it's on my list to do !
plastic liner real thick sold in calif.
cement block surrounded


Anything helps. At least 500 gallons in the cistern at all times during fire season would be nice. 1,500 - 3,000 would be awesome. If it isn't obviously visible from the house, a "notice to fire crews" near the front door or mail box listing the location and capacity of the cistern would be helpful. If it's a below-ground cistern make sure the access hatch is visible and easily openable so they can use it for drafting. For an above ground cistern, make sure the outlet pipe has a 2" NPSH "female" fitting coming out of it so they can connect the draft hose for their pumps. You don't need to provide a pump or fire hose. Even if you did they'd use their own anyway because it's what they're familiar with and there's no guarantee that the stuff you provided has been properly maintained or will actually work when needed.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Years ago, I worked for the US Forest Service, sometimes in fire management. Even then, the early 70s, the response crews for any given area already knew where the cisterns on private property were, just as they know where the hydrants are.

If a person installed a cistern, they could contact their local fire fighters, state, federal, county, rural fire district, who ever is going to be dispatched should they have a fire at their place, and give them the information in advance. The fire people would probably we happy to participate in the process of getting things in place that would be useful to them when they need the water.

In Central California, in the coast range, the reason many people have swimming pools is because they are required to store a given amount of water on their property, should the fire fighters need to come save their house. The swimming pool is the water storage. Depends on if you want to work out what it takes to keep it from freezing and breaking the plumbing, which we know depends on climate, but the water's there for fire safety. Taking that into consideration, and the fact that many permaculture guided rural people have ponds, seems like you could create capabilities for the taking of pond water to fight fires, too.

And the same as was said earlier in this thread about fire breaks on the side that brings the wind, you could consider fire break function when deciding where to place a pond(s), or whether or not to have a pond.

Thekla
 
Erica Wisner
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Hi Thekla! Good point about fire suppression water reserves being multi-function. Any water storage that you can access doubles as fire protection - but if you can't get it open in an emergency, or keep it filled most of the dry season, it's worth less.

A cistern will reduce evaporation, may be important if you don't have much water/water rights. As a first-year firefighter, I really like the idea of a high-up cistern with a big quarter-turn hose fitting, or any hose fitting (we carry a lot of adaptors). Way easier than drafting for a tired crew; if we're fresh, we can make up our own minds which is faster.

I'd be tempted to go multi-function with a cistern whose outlet feeds some other irrigation, and where any leaks or excess, as well as any rain, are channeled into wetland or horticultural features like swales that hoard every drop.

Elle: With limited water, I hope you are being realistic about the size of that U-pick orchard. Water rights are one thing, water availability is another. The whole Colorado basin is over-subscribed, and extreme weather is becoming more common.
Fires are worst in dry years, and if the trees on the edges are already drought-stressed with drying leaves, they might carry fire along into the rows you were trying harder to save. Do you have enough rainfall on the property to feed that orchard if collected and distributed intelligently (as I imagine you will)?
If you're relying on water rights to creeks, aquifers, or other water sources, you may be in the wrong climate for your project.

Another question is: are you selecting the most climate-tolerant fruit trees for your area? One way to judge is to look for abandoned homesteads or absentee-owner properties where their fruit trees are still going strong. There are also cactus with lovely edible fruits, if it comes to that.
Our climate is hot-cold-arid-sub-alpine. In our draws and bogs we seem to have apricots, wild cherries, and elderberries up here at elevation where it takes a lot of TLC to grow apples, for example.

One of the biggest apricots on our mountain has two rockpiles about halfway between the trunk and the canopy drip-line, which I suspect are partially responsible for its size. I have never noticed anybody watering it, the owners are way up the driveway when they're there at all. These rock-pile dew collectors are made with loose rocks that the wind can blow through, depositing heat. A tall-ish rock pile or gabion fence could also be used as a radiant heat barrier, if oriented with care. Reducing the wind speed and radiant heat helps keep plant moisture up, and reduces the ignition rates of those embers once they arrive. Radiant heat pre-bakes your house getting it ready to burn; permanent shade can help a lot.

With rock-falls and safety zones: Watch out that rock piles don't fill with flammable debris and become heat-collectors after a fire. We had a bad tragedy in the Okanogan at the Thirty-mile fire when crews tried to shelter on rock scree with a lot of pine needles and duff that had settled down in the gaps in the rocks.

In my district, we do not have any real safety zones, though our meadow and the dirt race-track could probably be converted quickly. It's hard to imagine clearing enough of our conifer forest that everyone on this sparsely-populated mountain could get to a shelter quickly... and if we did, we'd lose the trees' moisture-gathering and shade effects, and be prone to more frequent fires. I don't think deforesting the landscape is the answer, especially while we're all living in isolated little homes instead of the more traditional villages or multi-family longhouses. Making forests into deserts doesn't sound like permaculture; and in terms of conventional fire-wise design, it sounds like letting the fire win.

So if you're thinking of creating fire shelter areas, please talk to neighbors about going in together on something appropriate. I'm tempted to build an underground bunker shelter as described in Mollison's permaculture manual, or the buried pit-house design local tribes used to use for shelter.


Our friend Barbara's place was overrun by this year's record-breaking fires (which broke the record of last year's record-breaking fire complex).... Her swales, which were irrigated, inside the driveway loop, helped the firefighters save her home and shed, but she lost other outbuildings and the undeveloped brushland and woodland across the driveway. Their tractor is now a weird melted slag puddle.

So that's my new basis for saying swales, with irrigation, and an attractive turnaround driveway big enough for fire trucks, are a big plus. A sign saying "Cistern with 3000 gallons, big turnaround" and a map is also a big plus if you are trying to create beneficial firefighter habitat. (Will, thanks for the compliment on that other post... others, see the PEP1 thread for the idea of attracting firefighters kind of like hummingbirds or mason bees. A fire truck coming by to refill is like a bonus safety check on your property while fire is nearby.)

Another consideration that our local group has come across in the wake of this year's fires:
As we know, bare ground attracts weedy pioneers. We permies like weeds more than most people, but even we don't like the illegal-alien invasives. Areas that are colonized by invasive weeds before a fire can become bigger problems after, and areas that are cut bare (like fire trails) can become invasive weed vectors. Most undisturbed wild lands will recover well without interference, and wild native plants may in fact be better adapted and thrive after a fire.

I keep coming back to not wanting bare dirt around the place any more than necessary. A gravel road or stone wall could be a better option, though it costs more.
We are hoping to help re-seed fire trails with an appropriate native seed mix, the local Conservation District has some good resources for seed sources.
I'm also thinking about methods that conserve soil moisture, but make it easy to cut fire trails when needed. A deeply-mulched pathway could be turned into a fire trail with minimal effort, perhaps, or a strip planted with short bunch-grasses or seasonal bulbs that would be easy to mow, and easy to clear with a hoe or shovel if fire trail is urgently needed.

Mowing during fire season is not a good idea, by the way - mow in spring, or before the grass dries, and don't take combustion engines with big rock-beating blades out in the dry grass during fire weather. Short plants like clover or bunch grasses can be easier to keep alive, and short, without mowing.

You are right to be concerned about being near the road - but there's a lot of road to consider. In the fires I was on this year, roads were a definite minor theme. Combustion engines are already on fire - and they are just waiting for a chance to share the glory. We had fires started by haying, badly-maintained electrical harness, propane leaks, and some who-the-heck-knows roadside fires. (We also had about as many lightning strikes as everything else combined, so hey, it's natural.)


I appreciated on one property, they had mowed roads/firing ranges, with good lines of sight. They served not just as access to patrol for smoking embers, but also as partial fire-breaks where it would be easy to cut trail there if a full fire-break is needed. And I was pretty sure they were not booby-trapped, which is a (no kidding) real concern in our back-hills, paranoid-prepper neighborhood.

I hope this goes without saying, but if you want help defending your property, you ABSOLUTELY must let your local fire department know about hazards like ammo storage, farm chemicals, etc. It would be nice of you to post a diamond placard, or a map. But for God's sake, don't booby-trap the place! If you want help in an emergency, you better not be trying to kill your local emergency workers "by accident." And remember most of them are government employees in one way or another. Those "stay off my place, you government stooges!" constitional-rights signs tend to repel fire-fighters too.

That was a random tangent, sorry.

One other thing that got added to my list of traditional tools since the PEP1 post: I noticed that Moroccan villagers in the dry mountain olive region will plaster their whole roof from the underside. They tell me it's for bug protection, but it looks a heck of a lot more fire-resistant than our vented, exposed-wood eaves, which we use on all manner of houses. The coating shown here is a brown-coat plaster of clay and fiber smeared together, finish coating of white clay or lime.

In most climates, it's pretty clear whether fire or damp is a greater structural concern for your home. It pays to detail for the relevant conditions.

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