CHAPTER 4:  WILDFIRE PREVENTION


4.1 FIRE PREVENTION

Fire prevention, which includes all activities concerned with minimizing the incidence of destructive fires, is accomplished through education, regulating the public use of the Central Pine Barrens during periods of high fire danger, and establishing and enforcing rules and regulations regarding building in wildland-urban interface areas.

4.2 PUBLIC NOTIFICATION OF FIRE DANGER

A goal of the Wildfire Task Force is to establish a fire danger ranking and public notification system (see fire weather index system discussion in Section 3.4.1) for the Central Pine Barrens. A warning system for the public (radio and newspaper public service announcements) could be developed based on the fire index system to notify the public of periods of high fire danger.

The fire danger guidelines should be developed for State, County and town officials, as well as other groups that use the open lands within the Central Pine Barrens. The purpose of these guidelines is to aid in decision making with respect to open fires and access to lands during times of high fire danger.

4.3 SAFETY RECOMMENDATIONS AND GUIDELINES FOR THE WILDLAND-URBAN INTERFACE

The Central Pine Barrens contain high value homes and commercial properties intermingled with highly flammable native vegetation. Such a development pattern greatly complicates the duties of firefighters and increases the risk to properties and lives. Defensible space (open, nonflammable area around structures), access and construction materials are three factors that can be managed to reduce the threat of wildfire damage and improve the firefighters' ability to defend structures within the Central Pine Barrens.

A goal of the Wildfire Task Force is to provide safety recommendations regarding existing and future development within the wildland-urban interface. Each municipality (e.g., building department, fire marshal and volunteer fire department) should assess the codes and recommended guidelines for housing and development in wooded wildland-urban interface communities. Educational programs should be developed to inform the public and contractors about the guidelines.

4.4 PUBLIC INFORMATION AND EDUCATION

Although lightning strikes do ignite wildfires, fires caused by people account for the majority of wildfires in the Central Pine Barrens. Accidental fires, which are a minority, are most commonly caused by discarded cigarettes, vehicles, machinery use and open burning.

The Wildfire Task Force has a goal to develop fire prevention, fire safety and public information programs regarding fire in the Central Pine Barrens. Programs on wildfire prevention, either obtained or developed, should be adapted by local fire departments for use with their existing fire prevention programs. Such a program should present the positive and negative aspects of fire in the Central Pine Barrens. A reporting system should be established as well as a reward program for the reporting and conviction of anyone involved in setting unauthorized fires on open lands.

Since the Wildfire Task Force recognizes the predominance of the wildland-urban interface, a goal is to inform the homeowner and residents on fire safety, survival of wildland fires and development of their own defensible spaces. These programs will be developed at a future time by the Wildfire Task Force.

4.R RECOMMENDATIONS