The National Weather Service issues Red Flag Warnings & Fire Weather Watches to alert fire departments of the onset, or possible onset, of critical weather and dry conditions that could lead to rapid or dramatic increases in wildfire activity. According to news reports, this season promises to be one of the worst potential wild fire seasons of record. And even though we all know that weather forecasters aren’t exactly 100% accurate, it is true that the combination of dry weather and high winds lead to increased danger.
Here are 11 facts about wildfires:
- The number one cause of wildfires in the U.S. is mankind. Man-made combustions from arson, human carelessness, or lack of fire safety cause wildfire disasters every year. I take pride in the fact that canines aren’t even mentioned in this statistic. We hardly ever start fires.
- More than 80 percent of all wildfires are started by humans. See-more proof that dogs aren’t pyromaniacs.
- Wildfires (AKA forest or peat fires) are uncontrolled fires which often occur in wild, unpopulated areas. However, they can occur anywhere-destroying homes, other buildings, agriculture, humans, and animals in their path.
- Firefighters refer to wildfires as surface fires, dependent crown fires, running crown fires, spot fires, and ground fires. Firefighters refer to wildfires as surface fires, dependent crown fires, “running crown fires,” spot fires, and ground fires. A ‘running crown fire’ is a forest fire that advances with great speed jumping from crown to crown ahead of the ground fire. Whatever they are called-all of us hate fires and work hard to prevent them.
- “Running crown fires” are a firefighter’s worst nightmare because they burn extremely hot, travel rapidly, and can change direction quickly.
- The most dangerous aspect of “running crown fires” are the convection currents which produce massive fire storms and tornadoes. These subsequent storms can send embers well ahead of the main fire front, causing spot fires that in turn can start new fires in other directions.
- Weather conditions can directly contribute to the occurrence of wildfires through lightning strikes or indirectly by an extended dry spell or drought.
- Wildfires can be started by an accumulation of dead matter (leaves, twigs, and trees) that can create enough heat in some instances to spontaneously combust and ignite the surrounding area.
- Lightning strikes the earth over 100,000 times a day. Ten to 20 percent of these lightning strikes can cause fire.
- An average of 1.2 million acres of U.S. woodland burn every year.
- A large wildfire-or conflagration-is capable of modifying the local weather conditions (AKA producing its own weather). That is pretty spooky. Huh?
A Red Flag Warning is issued for weather events which may result in extreme fire behavior that will occur within 24 hours. A Fire Weather Watch is issued when weather conditions could exist in the next 12-72 hours. A Red Flag Warning is the highest alert. During these times extreme caution is urged by all residents, because a simple spark can cause a major wildfire. And a tiny cat can cause a huge mess. Just sayin’. A Fire Weather Watch is one level below a warning, but fire danger is still high.
The type of weather patterns that can cause a watch or warning include low relative humidity, strong winds, dry fuels, the possibility of dry lightning strikes, or any combination of the above. During heightened fire danger, additional firefighters are generally added to active duty, more engines are on standby and more equipment is at the ready 24 hours a day, to be able to respond to new fires. It is important that everyone takes steps to prevent wildfires. One less spark could mean one less wildfire.
Here are tips for preventing wildfires:
- Learn how to build a safe campfire. Or eat your meat raw. Works for me!
- Safely burn debris.
- Properly maintain equipment.
- #BESAFE at home.
While you are enjoying summer activities, make sure you take steps to #BeSafe. When a disaster of any kind strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training-related costs by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, it saves lives.