FRENCHTOWN – Fire season in Montana will be here before you know it and officials say now is the time to get your property ready in case of wildfires.
Forest fires are a hot topic around Western Montana come springtime. While last year’s fire season was somewhat mild compared to the 2017 season and one way that fire crews would like to keep that trend going is improving fire prevention techniques.
Crews from across Montana gathered on Thursday in Frenchtown for some training on how to inspect houses for wildfire hazards — and how to help homeowners figure out how to remove them.
“We have a class of students and they are students from all over the west. They represent the Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, Montana DNRC and others,” explained Lolo National Forest Fire Prevention and Education Coordinator Chris Johnson. “And what they are doing here today is they are learning how to assess structures for their risk of forest fires.”
Participants in the event were taught how to examine the property, starting at the house and extending outward, looking for hazards like build ups of dead plants or tree canopies without enough open space between them.
“It’s especially nice to do it in May when the temperature is down — the temperature around here and the temperature of the homeowner. Come August and September, when everyone is in a real state in a panicked state — in a very chaotic state — because there is fire on the landscape,” Johnson said.
“The things that I do around the home to make it less susceptible to wildfire we do them in a much quicker fashion we do them with bulldozers, chainsaws. It doesn’t look as good as when you are doing landscaping in May,” he added.
It’s up to the property owner to ask for forest fire management crews to come out and inspect their property and it’s something that’s not only good for the homeowner but is also a great thing for firefighters.
“All the things that these homeowners are doing in May make it a lot safer for me to come in here in August — make it safer for all those students and all of those veteran firefighters across the Western United States,” Johnson told MTN News. “We take our hats off to them when they put an effort like they are here today.”
The mitigation efforts by fire departments are aimed at preventing build ups of dead or dying foliage that could be easy fuel for a growing wildfire.
When assessing a home fire crews keep track of all the different hazard areas around the property and put them into a database that they can use if a fire does happen on that property.
You can click here to learn more about protecting your home and property from the dangers of wildfires.