You may have noticed land ownership patterns in Missouri are changing. Large acreages are broken up into subdivisions, small farms, and wooded areas. These patterns are especially evident in the rapidly expanding areas around the many recreational lakes Missouri has to offer.
According to the Missouri Department of Conservation State Fire Marshal, retirement homes and vacation properties are being built in the forest without precautions to using fire-resistant building materials, fire protection, and preservation of defensible space around the property. Compounding that problem is that nearly all natural cover fires in these areas are caused by people.
There are a number of preventive measures that property builders and owners can take to reduce hazards and potential damage to their property, caused by wildfires.
Use this checklist provided by the Missouri Department of Conservation to ensure your property is protected:
1. Remove dead branches hanging over the roof.
2. Remove any branches within 15' of your chimney.
3. Clean all dead leaves and needles from your roof and gutters.
4. Cover your chimney opening with a nonflammable screen of 1/2" or smaller mesh.
5. Soak fireplace and barbecue ashes in a metal bucket of water before disposal.
6. If building a new home, construct it away from ridgetops.
7. Use fire-resistant building materials.
8. Install double or triple pane windows.
9. Opt for concrete or stone patios instead of wooden decks.
10. Install outside water hydrants and have a garden hose attached.
11. Stack woodpiles at least 30' away from structures.
12. Locate LP gas tanks at least 30' away from structures and clear vegetation within 10' of the tank.
13. Clear vegetation at least 10' away from burning barrels and cover the top of the barrel with a screen.
14. Maintain 30' of defensible space all around the property: green lawn, fire-resistant foundation, plants less than 18" tall, and hardwood tree branches pruned 6-10' from the ground.
15. Clearly mark all emergency water sources.
16. Check to make sure your road is clearly named or numbered and a sign is posted at each intersection.
17. Post the last name and address of your property's occupants at the driveway entrance.
18. Designate an emergency meeting place outside your property.