Preparing for and Protecting you Home and or Retreat from Forest Fire

by Ron Melchiore

close-callI had another post in mind to submit to you folks but forest fires are a subject that is near and dear to my heart. I’ve recently become aware of the fires burning in various areas particularly in the Southeastern United States. In fact, it finally made the National news tonight. I thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail many years ago and I can’t imagine the number of fires or amount of territory now burning through those areas.

As some of you know, we’ve had our share of forest fires out here. They’ve literally had us running for our lives. I can’t think of too many things that demand immediate attention more than walking out the door and seeing a billowing curtain of gray/black smoke rising skyward in the nearby forest.

The following paragraph is an excerpt from my book Off Grid and Free : My Path to the Wilderness.

“It was like being in a movie theater, the big screen showing a large-as-life fire burning right in front of us, with black smoke billowing upward and a dense veil of white-gray smoke hugging the ground so thickly that the bright orange flames were visible only when they leapt skyward above the fracas. A slight diminution in the smoke allowed just enough visibility to see an orange-red glow, much like opening the door to a furnace allows a view of the orange-red coals. And, like the furnace hungrily consuming its fuel, the intensity of the forest fire’s heat incinerated everything in its path. “

sprinklers-on-the-roofI have a full chapter devoted to our fire experiences. I am not a fire expert. Rather I’m a guy who has dealt with at least 4 different fires in our 17 years of wilderness living in northern Canada. Two of those fires have gotten to within 90 feet of our homestead. All totaled those fires burned at least ¾ million acres around us.

Here are some general tips anyone can do to prepare well ahead of time. They are not things to contemplate when the fire is ¼ mile away and working towards you. Have an escape plan having multiple paths of egress. If this road is blocked, where to now? Is there a lake to head to as a last resort?Is the vehicle fueled up? Is it pointed in the right direction?

Manifold Setup

Manifold Setup

The last thing you want to be doing is packing in a panic! Consider what items are of greatest importance. Purse/wallet, identification, important documents, medications, backup laptop computer, hard drive or USB with essential financial or other data? What is deemed essential will vary from person to person. In our case, in spring, since we are only one lightning strike away from disaster, we have a survival bag by the door as well as our survival suits. We have smoke masks and goggles. We pack some food and water in the boat and have the water pump and boat fully fueled and ready to roll. Remember, we have the added factor we are alone out here so we plan accordingly.

Rake all combustibles such as leaves and debris far from buildings. Be aware fires will create their own winds so those leaves you raked to the perimeter will be blown around again. If I had a chipper, tiller or some device to reduce and shred and /or bury leaves, I would use it. If you are in an evergreen forest, I would consider removing trees near buildings. At the very least, remove all lower branches in nearby trees which act as ladder fuels. (fuels that allow a ground fire to start climbing the trees)

The above are routine things we do every year to be prepared. Since we live on a lake, we have a sprinkler system set up preemptively. Forget trying to put the fire out. That’s not going to happen. All you can do is try to get combustibles away from any structures and take measures to bounce the fire around your property.

When we moved out here, we bought a water pump, fire hoses, garden sprinklers and garden hoses (which serve as sprinkler supply lines). Higher quality sprinklers and supply hoses are available and if I had to do it over again I would opt for those. Our spring ritual is to set up all our equipment long before the first thunder and lightning appear. By doing so, at the first sign of trouble, we’re ready.

The first step is to set up the fire pump on our beach. By means of a quick coupler, a 2.5 inch PVC suction line is connected to the pump and extends about 12 feet out into the lake. On the end of the pipe that is in the water, I have a foot valve which allows water to flow one way to the pump but prevents water from draining back into the lake. That’s important because you don’t want the water pump to drain of water and thereby lose its prime. The foot valve rests on a rock about 8 inches off the lake bottom so that sand and other debris isn’t sucked into the system.

On the output side of the water pump there is a threaded coupler which ultimately connects to standard 1.5 inch firehose. Several 100 foot sections of hose are connected together to make the run up the hill to the house. Mounted on a porch post is a manifold which takes the high-pressure water from the pump and redirects it out to smaller feed lines, the garden hoses I mentioned earlier. We have 5 outlets on this manifold which we can control via individual valves. We can shut off or engage each sprinkler with the turn of a valve. Sprinklers can be mounted singly or in series, so there are some instances where one valve may control two sprinkler heads.

Our manifold also has an adapter and valve that allows us to continue a run of standard firehose out to our homestead’s perimeter to tackle any smoldering areas and hot spots. We have two nozzles that can be attached to the end of this fire hose. The first is an adjustable spray nozzle capable of spraying water in a short, wide pattern or a jet of water that can shoot out one hundred feet if need be. Our second nozzle has a narrow opening that delivers a high-pressure jet of water capable of pulverizing the ground to reach fire that is smoldering in roots and moss.

Our home and outbuildings are top priority to protect so I head up to the roof of our two-story home and mount a sprinkler on a short pole at each end of the roof. A short hose connects them in series and then the feed line drops from the roof to the nearby manifold. Our house and outbuildings are now protected.

Forgive me for the cuts from the book but time is of the essence and I want to get this information out. The following is another excerpt from my book Off Grid and Free:My Path to the Wilderness and has more specific information.

What has saved our home twice?

Sprinklers! Both our own system and those of the provincial fire crews. Part of my spring ritual is to head to the house roof and install two sprinklers, one at each end. I also have full-length trees cut, approximately 20- to 25 feet long, and have a sprinkler head attached to the top of each of those trees. We pick locations around our house site where we can stand these trees back up, like big flag poles, and either wire each one to another smaller tree or attach a set of tripod legs to the pole, so that it can be free-standing. The higher these “flag poles,” the more coverage and the better the protection. The Honda water pump with a 1 1⁄2 ” firehose delivers pressurized water from our lake to the input side of a manifold, and all the sprinkler feed hoses come off the output of the manifold.

Once a fire gets into the crown of the trees, it’s hard to stop. So how do sprinklers prevent property from being incinerated?

The basic premise of sprinklers is to bring up the humidity in the protected area as high as possible, before a fire arrives. The dome of humidity has a tendency to bounce the fire around it, allowing the fire to bypass the protected areas. They most certainly will not extinguish a wildfire!

For anyone living in fire-prone areas, this concept will work for you as long as you have a reliable water source. A swimming pool, pond, stream, or even household tap gives you a chance at saving your home. At a minimum, a couple of sprinklers, proper water lines, and a water pump are all that are needed for some cheap insurance.”

When we first moved out here to build our homestead, we knew we would eventually have to deal with a forest fire. But we had no idea the scope and intensity a conflagration could possess. During construction, we flew in metal siding and roofing for our home’s exterior. It gives a great deal of fire resistance. For anybody doing new construction, especially in fire prone areas, consider metal or masonry exterior. And finally, never underestimate a fire. I have personally seen forest fires run 5 to 10 miles in a day! They will lob embers far in advance of themselves to start new fires. Good luck!

Ron and his wife currently live 100 miles in the Canadian wilderness on a remote lake. As part of the back to the land movement that originated in the 70’s, they have spent their adult years living the homestead dream. You can follow and contact Ron at https://www.facebook.com/offgridandfree.mypathtothewilderness or http://www.inthewilderness.net/

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Comments

  1. Draq wraith says:

    42 of those fires in Tennessee are considered to be arson.

    The area is bone dry. I suggest a shovel and take and bury leaves you have on your property. Do not burn anything.

    • Babycatcher says:

      We chop ours up with the mulching mower and put it in the flower beds. I won’t even light the fire pit till they give us the all-clear.

      • Ron Melchiore says:

        That’s the idea Babycatcher. Might as well utilize those leaves at the same time and add some organic matter to the gardens. Thanks for sharing.

    • Encourager says:

      “42 of those fires in Tennessee are considered to be arson…”

      Yes, they may be sickos, but they could also be terrorists, striking at our “soft belly” and masquerading as an arsonist…well, yes, they ARE arsonists, but you get my point, right??

  2. I live in a cabin in the woods on the edge of the national forest. We have had a couple of fires break out near us. My prep is I grab a few things and put them in the motorhome. I drive the motorhome my wife drives the pickup and we go somewhere until it’s safe. I have no plans on being that guy trying to save the house with a garden hose.

    • Ron Melchiore says:

      Agreed IdahoBob. That’s why we have everything set up well in advance. Get the pumps running, do what we can and when the situation is bleak, bail out into the boat to safety.

      We’ve watched the news with fire raging all around and see someone spraying water with a garden hose. No thanks! That’s not for us.

    • I also agree with IdahoBob … we had way too close calls last year. we have only one exit out. if fire takes out electrical lines above us we have no water to pump. not the best homestead place … but since we are an old couple we had to stay somewhat close to “civilization”. But for those in the forest … wildland fires have been a sorely needed topic of discussion.

      • Ron Melchiore says:

        Hello jaywalk,
        For anyone living in forested areas, especially an evergreen forest, it’s only a matter of time before it burns. It might not be in our life time, but it will burn. Might as well prepare for it just in case.

        For sure, if the electrical lines fry, that takes the house water pump out of the game unless a backup plan is in place. Hopefully though, there has been enough of a heads up, that the area is being saturated with water while the electricity is available. If a gas powered water pump is out of the question, I might think about having a back up generator available to run the house pump just in case the power goes out. I’m just throwing thoughts out for consideration. Every situation is different.

        Thanks for your feedback!

  3. Ron Melchiore says:

    Hi Draq. We were aware a couple were arson but had no idea of the extent. Inconceivable that some sick person/persons are out there wreaking this kind of havoc! If they only knew the devastation that can occur from their actions.

    DO NOT BURN ANYTHING! Right you are and I should have made that point abundantly clear. One can’t imagine how quickly a fire can get out of control.

  4. A timely article. We are in the Blue Ridge Mtns. in NC. We’ve had a fire burning near us for the past five days, nearly contained now, but it burned 500 acres. It came within 1/4 mi. of us but we were upwind with 50mpg. gusts, so not feeling the effects at first. But with fires in most of the Western NC counties, our whole region is now adversely affected by the dense smoke. With only one measurable rainfall in nearly 4 months, we are a literal tinder box, praying for precipitation of any kind to lessen the risks.

    • Ron Melchiore says:

      Hello Dee. We are hoping as well that your area gets the needed rain soon. We know what it’s like waiting day after day for rain that doesn’t come.

      Be aware, even when winds seem to be pushing the fire away, fires can slowly back burn their way closer. Winds can shift suddenly as well.

      You live in a beautiful area down there and I have fond memories of hoofing through it. I wish you nothing but the best! Ron

  5. We battle fires annually in Arizona as well. Good article, necessary!

    • Ron Melchiore says:

      Thanks Jesse. We occasionally hear about fires out your way. I hope they are done for this year. Stay safe!

  6. WE have BUSTED the FOREST SERVICE AND MILITARY burning cabins in the forest a dozen times in the last twenty years,THE LOCAL rual fire dept,here in colorado walked off the fire up by Denver when the caught the russians setting fires and the police gangs WOULD NOT ARREST THEM ,SO the guys said screw you and came home…YOUR GOVERNMENT IS ROTTEN TO THE CORE,and america still has their LIPS GLUED TO THEIR ASS,americans aren’t nothing but government but lickers AT BEST……

    • Thomas The Tinker says:

      !!!What??? go to Decalf or put down the bottle or the bong … either way could you try that again? And Yes… our Government is indeed rotten to the core and .. give or take .. half the country does have it’s lips glued to one government benefit … or more.

      Russians? I have kin in Washington State. One a City fireman and county volunteer fire crewman, and they do fly in crews from other countries…. Russians?

      • Oldalaskan says:

        If things are slow many hot shot crews from Alaska are sent south to the states to help with fires.

        • Ron Melchiore says:

          I think that’s pretty standard Oldalaskan. Crews come in from various parts of the world when things are really bad. I heard we sent over a water bomber to Israel a few days ago to help over there.

      • Encourager says:

        TTT, I am afraid we have another troll… there I said it first…

    • It’s not crazy. Dave Hodges of The Common Sense Show lives in AZ and has long reported on the presence of Russian military and mercenaries, esp. in CO.,the Pacific NW, and Alaska. Our police have orders not to interfere with anything the foreign/ UN military is doing. He also reported that the secret documents seized from Ben Ladin’s quarters outlined a plan to cripple America via burning forests with their small towns, and businesses. Dave’s network of contacts reported they have satellite images of cars stopping every two miles and setting forest fires, and with fine tuning the satellites they would be able to catch them in the act and even get license plate info, but the government wouldn’t permit it. It sounds incredible, but apparently the effort to collapse the America we knew is more advanced than any of us know.

      • Babycatcher says:

        There was someone in NE TN setting fires along a road. The fire map showed 5 different fires, same side of the road, about a mile apart from each other. It was ruled arson.

        • Encourager says:

          Babycatcher, were those fires the ones the teens started by setting tires on fire and rolling them down the hills??

  7. Chuck Findlay says:

    I’m lucky, I live where this has never been an issue. Not a lot of brush here that could catch fire.

    And it rains a lot here so it’s more a problem with too much water then it is the lack of it.

    • Ron Melchiore says:

      Hi Chuck,

      That’s something I have no experience with. Flooding. I’ll let somebody else write about that topic. 🙂 Glad you are safe from fires though.

  8. Hi fellas,
    This is my first time commenting, am from Australia, and live in the bush in a rural area, that is a very high fire risk.
    We are encouraged to have a bushfire survival plan, as fires have caused much deaths to many Aussie communities. For more information on this go to http://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au
    We choose to live here and manage the risks.
    We have several different ways to run hoses and sprinklers from the dam and the pool, as well as fire resistant tanks.
    All set up with different power supplies and individual from each other. 5 separate systems would have to go out before we are left defensless from a bush fire. Indeed getting ready for fires is what started my family on our “prepping” lifestyle.
    Being in a position with no option for retreat from fire, I came up with the idea for a bushfire bunker at a good cost.
    I contracted a cement water tank to be placed in the ground with a larger man hole for an entrance. My hubby made a fire proof door. I use it as a cellar, mostly, and pray we never have to shelter in there from fire. This was very cost effective compared to markets “bunkers”.
    You can e,ail me if you would like more info and I can post pictures.
    Stay safe friends.
    Taya from Australia.

    • Ron Melchiore says:

      Hello Taya,

      Thanks for stopping in and providing excellent feedback. I too, hope you never have to use that bunker.

      It sounds like you have things well covered, You have back up plans to your back up plans. Well done!

      I suspect this is your fire season down there. I wish you a safe, healthy summer! All the best! Ron

      • Thanks Ron,
        Instead of the usual 130 mls rain in November we have had 13.
        Everything is dry and the temps have been in the mid to high 30 degrees Celsius.
        I strongly urge everyone to make a start, no matter how small. We developed our fire strategies as money necessitated. The first year we got decent hosing that was long enough and good copper connections. Sometimes we got old connections at garage sales.
        Then we added as time, money and resources allowed.
        Good luck everyone, many small steps towards a goal, will get you there in the end.
        Cheers Fellahs.

        • Ron Melchiore says:

          As an afterthought Taya, sprinklers are amazing. I have no idea of your specific situation and setup, but you might want to consider mounting a sprinkler on a tall pole right over your bunker hatch. That might give you a circle of coverage of perhaps 100 feet or more that will have cooler air and will hopefully create a dome of safety directly over and around your bunker.

          If I understand your bunker setup, there is lots of room down there. Any room for a large water tank? Is it worth considering a metal pole mounted sprinkler with a copper or galvanized line running up the pole originating inside the bunker so as backup, you would have the option of pumping some water around from a pump and water source located in your bunker. The pump could be battery operated. Just a thought to throw out there.

          • Hmmm,
            Darn good idea, I had one of the rural fire guys come round and advise on our system. He told me that nothing will actually ignite inside the sprinkler zone. He said that the water turns to steam as the fire moves in and the volume/ area protected from ignition increases. Things will still warp or melt, but not actually catch fire, as the fire front passes.
            Thanks for the idea, cheers Ron

            • Ron Melchiore says:

              Taya, building on that theme a little further, if it were me, and I was considering running a metal water pipe up out of the bunker to supply a spray of water from a high sprinkler around the bunker entrance, I would likely do the following:
              1. Bank up a good hill of soil around the pipe where it came out of the ground
              2. Make that pipe just a short stub inside the bunker. My concern is that it is a heat sink and if for whatever reason the water fails, you don’t want a long length of metal pipe in the bunker getting hot.
              3. I’d put a quick coupler on the end of the pipe so that I could quick couple the water line to it if I had the pump/reservoir inside the bunker with me.
              4. If for some reason the pump or battery or ??? fails and water is not able to flow out to protect me, I’d want to be able to quickly disconnect the quick coupled water line and put another quick coupler on that is basically a plug. A plug on a quick coupler fastened to your pipe water line so that you can plug that pipe to prevent smoke from being drawn down through the pipe. That quick coupler plug would only be utilized in the event something occurs to prevent water being pumped out to an above sprinkler.

              I hope that makes some sense. Please let me know if there is any confusion and we can discuss it further.

    • Anonamo Also says:

      Welcome aboard, Don’t forget the re-breathing apparatus, heavy fire sucks up all oxygen available… Do you have any way to tell the danger/fire has passed?

      • Good question,
        1. Air, the shelter must be air tight for harbouring people, both to avoid smoke inhalation and the burning up of oxygen that may occur when a huge fire passes by.
        In Canberra ( Australia’s Capitol) some years ago an entire family sheltered in their garage. The fire passed the house and never touched it. Sadly, however they all died of asphyxiation, because the fire burned up the oxygen.
        So airtightness is important for a fire shelter, here in the Australian bush ( and anywhere really).
        2. Adults breath aprox 1 cubic meter of air an hour. So the shelter must be big enough to hold air for the number of people who will shelter there, and for however long you think it will take, to be safe to leave.
        The water tank is 23000 litres. I have used half that volume packing it with stuff, as it is my cellar. So the volume of air should fine for 10 people for 1 hour. I have 4 adults who would use it, but probably only 2 would be here in a fire event. If extra people show up, I know how many and for how long we could accomodate ourselves.
        We plan on getting a disused but working scuba tank down in the fire shelter, when I find one going cheap. Just in case we have extra people show up in a serious fire event, or need a very long stay down there.
        3. Checking outside. As I said we have an underground, cement water tank, with a fire proof door, that is airtight. We had it plumbed the same as a tank, so we have an in and out pipe, for water ( which is capped and buried now). We also had them put one pipe on top, sticking straight up, with a threadable cap. This is so that we could use the structure as a tank, if needed. This could be used to check the depth of water, if we used it for that. What we have done is use a realativly cheap cement pipe section to protect from radiant heat, and made a periscope that we can use to look out, very similar to submarines, I imagine. But home made with good old Aussie, ingenuity. We can also cap this airtight if needed.
        The fire front moves pretty quickly in the Australian bush, the eucalypts give off a gas which ignites in front of the fire, in the bad ones. So it takes about 15 to 30 minutes for the fire front to pass.
        That’s when you pull out all your hoses, which were in the shelter with you so they don’t burn. This means we have something to put out any spot fires we can.
        The shelter is only a part of our serious bushfire plan. If thinking about organising a shelter, it is important to do the reasearch, to keep your loved ones safe. I suppose that’s what we are all doing.
        Hope this helps.
        Cheers Taya from Australia

        • Ron Melchiore says:

          Good day Taya,

          Even we are much warmer than normal. Typical is -19C (-2F) for lows and -11C (12F) for highs. Thermometer is stuck on -2C (29F). I’m not complaining although it will take much longer to make safe ice to get a plane in here if we had an emergency.

          In my first response to you yesterday, I had a post all written and then deleted some of it. The part I deleted was a concern about oxygen in a bunker situation. I didn’t want to add more stress to your situation without facts to back me up. I have heard where oxygen might be an issue but wasn’t sure how true that was. Sounds like you have thought it out well. I vaguely recall a fire crew getting trapped and using an old mine shaft to ride out the firestorm and oxygen was not an issue. Heat was but not oxygen. I also thought of crews that are forced to deploy their individual fire shelters. Many lives have been saved with them and oxygen is not the issue. Superheated air and/or smoke entering the lungs is the big problem.

          So I’m not sure oxygen itself would be an issue for most. Smoke and heat are the likely killers. Of course, you are in an airtight container. I’m sure you know oxygen and fire are good friends so I’d want to make sure any breathing equipment is tight and not saturating my bunker with high levels of oxygen. If you did the periscope routine or opened the bunker door with high oxygen concentrations, it might be a problem. I hope you get some rain soon. Stay safe! Ron

          • You’re wonderful,
            Yes, I plan to use only bottled air, not pure oxygen as such,( atmospheric air is 21% oxygen). So we can breath but not have ignitable gas in the shelter.
            I recall the difficulty finding the information to keep my family safe. There are no laws about fire shelters, here in Australia, only guidelines ,
            http://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/plan-prepare/private-bushfire-shelters-or-bunkers/
            I believe it is the knowledge we obtain, to inform our preparations, that is key in taking actions. So thanks for the tips, Ron
            Stay safe, cheers Taya

            • Ron Melchiore says:

              Thank you Taya for the kind comment. I’m very glad we can banter this stuff back and forth.

              I perused the website you supplied. Quite interesting. Until your comment yesterday, I had no idea there were fire bunkers. If I was in a forested area with only one way out, you can bet I’d be looking hard at a bunker.

              Kind of funny since we have zero roads here but the lake out front is a life saver. Have a good day! Ron

        • we have been having big fires the past few years. When a fire starts pack up and get ready. This year we did not have to evacuate but we were ready if we did.We also had leashes for the dogs set up and a extra bag of dog food to share if anyone needed.

          • keep dog crates and cat carriers ready, too.
            the food and water dishes are good to keep in the carriers.

    • Encourager says:

      Welcome to the Wolf Pack, Taya! I am always interested in how people in other countries ‘prep’ or handle emergency situations. Thanks for posting!

  9. In my younger days I spent 3 years living in the Sierra Mountains. I maintained a shovel, a wool blanket, and a pail of sand in the trunk of my car. Twice I used them when I came upon a small roadside fire.

    • Ron Melchiore says:

      Hello Ron,

      I can’t help but think your outstanding foresight saved people in the area a great deal of heartache. No telling where those fires would have ended had you not come upon them in time. Good job! Those 3 items are things people should consider for their own vehicles. Thanks for commenting.

  10. Ron, know your system well. For me, the pump water fills a 1200 gallon cistern with two 35 gallon pressure tanks and then has lines heading to house (metal sided and steel roofed trailer) and to other parts of the property to the front, south side, and the east side. Asking grandson to cut a fire break to the north between house and the acre pond. Generator is in shop. Under a burn ban right now. A lot of dead wood on the ground waiting for a spark. Needs forestry to do a controlled burn when the rain return.

    Really like the article. Speaking my language. One way out. Had not thought of flat bottom boat on the pond as a safe spot. Thanks.

  11. Hello pack, I grew up in a national forest in northern MN, luckily we never had fires that threatened us but some years it was a constant worry. As a former firefighter it ruffles my feathers when I hear that arsonists are setting many of the fires across the south. We had one near our home north of Nashville a few weeks ago, it was a brush fire that was fueled by drought conditions, and 25 MPH winds. What made it eerie is that we had smoke that had blown into the Nashville, TN area from other southern fires at the same time.

    I remember controlled burns near Ely, MN on an island in the BWCA in the 70’s that “got away” from the gov’t fire setters. And with all the old brush they blackened many acres of public lands. What’s creepy is that fires burned badly near Ely, MN in 2012…de javu. If you look at fire history in MN from the DNR amazingly no mention is made of these “controlled burns” getting away.

    • Ron Melchiore says:

      Good day Col. D,

      As a guy who’s lived through a couple infernos, I know exactly what you mean when you say it “ruffles your feathers.” It definitely riles me up to hear that someone is starting some of these fires.

      I can’t comment on why there is no mention of controlled burns getting away. But there is an important point about fire here.

      Even the professionals doing a controlled burn with a thought out plan and equipment on the scene sometimes can’t stop a wildfire from getting out of control. Fire is unpredictable and easily misjudged. It can surprise the most seasoned firefighters. It is shocking how quickly things can get out of hand and how fast a fire can move. Stay safe down there!

    • Encourager says:

      We have had quite a few (too many!) bad fires from the DNR’s ‘controlled burns’. If I remember one correctly, it was in the Senne area in the UP a few years ago. We have also had them in the LP.

  12. Ron Melchiore says:

    Hi Docj,

    Very glad you enjoyed the article and found it of value.

    When we are threatened by fire, we wear our survival suits. Worst case scenario, we can jump in the lake. In the 2002 fire, I was out here alone when my whole world was on fire. At times, I was in the lake, in the boat or on an island depending on the situation. Even islands burned. During that fire, I wished I had a smoke mask and goggles. I highly recommend them. We have them now!

    A fire break is a good idea. Just be aware, islands in our lake burned so a big fire will jump firebreaks, roads, lakes, rivers etc. It will lob embers well in advance of itself. In the 2010 fire we had sprinklers defending our rear which was the direction the fire came from. We watched in horror as forest in front of the house caught fire from a coal it lobbed ahead of itself. That fire got to withing about 20 feet from our water pump and equipment. Phew! That was close.

    Thanks so much for stopping by Docj. All the best! Ron

  13. I live in a rural area also, I am not lucky enough to have a lake or stream close so I got a 16ft free standing swimming pool it holds 3000 gallons of water, it is my fire insurance and the grand kids love it on hot days

    • Hey Matt,
      Do you have a submersible pump for the pool?
      Just wondering, if it has back up generator power for when you need it.
      Cheers Taya

      • Ron Melchiore says:

        I have seen submersible pumps but I am not familiar with the specs on them. I have never used one personally. I like the idea as a primary or backup to an above water pump. (or vice versa)

        My suggestion would be to look at the specs and make sure it isn’t high volume, low pressure. Any pump a person uses needs to be able to push water the distance and height their sprinklers are set at and the flow needs to be adequate to furnish all the water all the sprinklers can handle. Depending on setup, pump specs and rpm, length of hose runs, hose diameters and flow rate of sprinklers, you may find the last sprinkler on a distant run spits out a dink stream of water. Please consider testing things completely to confirm your individual setups work. Good luck to all!

  14. Living next to a wild life ever end the controlled burns always make me nervous. With all the woods around my only real prep are fire breaks. So if it come we have to go. There is no way out here except for woods every where.

  15. Ron Melchiore says:

    Hi Jeanne,
    You are smart to be wary. Fire breaks have their place but can’t be depended on. Fire can jump large distances. We have a fire break here and it still jumped it. Not only that, but the 2010 fire blew into the burn of 2002 and burned aggressively for hours in the old burn. For a week it slowly burned in the old fire area.

    It’s good you have a plan. Stay safe!

  16. Chuck Findlay says:

    Ron that manifold in your picture , your sprinklers all would seem to need the temps to be above 0 centigrade (32 F for those of us in the USA.) to be of much use.

    What do you do to be ready to combat fire when water is all frozen?

    • Ron Melchiore says:

      I’ve never heard of any real fire threats in the north here when temperatures are consistently below freezing so it’s not an issue. The majority of fires are set by lightning which usually comes with warmer temperatures.

      Having said that, we live in an environment where spring day time temps can be in the 60’s and nights go into the 20’s. If our system is filled with water, the main 1 1/2 line coming up from the pump to manifold will get slush. The manifold has too much mass to freeze. But I will go down and throw a blanket over the water pump. Imperative it doesn’t freeze.

      Fires have burned in that situation but by the time the fire comes alive again, daytime temperatures have melted any ice. The situation is the same in the fall. I’ve seen fires burn in late Sept/early October and night temps go below freezing but with the warmer day, any slush and ice in the lines melts pretty quick. Usually I have taken all fire suppression down by Sept 1.

      That’s my experience. However, someone in the mountains may have a different situation. In that event, it is very easy to drain the system for the night including manifold. I have a valve near the pump at the beach that can drain all system water leaving the pump primed ready to go. As long as the pump is primed and protected from freezing, just start the pump and all lines will refill with water, ready to go.

      Thanks for the question Chuck!

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