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 06-06-2003, 13:24 Post: 56874
DeTwang



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 Living in the Fire Zone

As I'm planning out the construction on my property, I want to pick yur brains regarding what to plan for in the way of fire safety.

The property is 1.5 acres in the woods at about 4000 feet. All the Pines have been removed from the property but firs, etc. still remain.

Currently there is a doublewide mobile with a steel roofed shelter built over it. There are two out buildings, wood frame and siding with steel roofs.

The plan is to turn one of the out buildings into an inlaws residence, move into it, and tear down the trailer, replacing it with a new home.

I'm about 7-10 miles from the nearest fire station. The property has a well dug into an underground stream, and there is a couple of seasonal streams within an 1/8th mile of the property. There is a pretty good sized year round stream about a third of a mile away.

Big mountain fire a couple years ago on the other side of the county. Lots of homes lost. So I want to think long and hard about this as I plan.

What can I do to help ensure my property will survive a forest fire?

Also, I'm wondering about communications. Cells phones don't work. There is a ham radio available, but I know nothing about them. I'm wondering what might be a good solution for when I'm riding the quad or the dirt bike out in the backwoods.

If an accident happened, I could never be found. What is a good 'portable', preferably low cost communicatins device for this purpose. Not sure of the capability of consumer GPS devices today. Do they have emergency response features?

My cell phone supposedly has some sort of emergency GPS feature, but I don't think there's any way of sending out a distress call on it. I think it's more for them to locate you once you call in with the cell phone.






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 06-06-2003, 13:36 Post: 56879
Chief



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 Living in the Fire Zone

First and most important is to remove flamable vegetation from the vicinity of the dwellings. Make sure you have a good backup generator to run the well pump if power is lost. Have the local fire dept. come out and inspect your area and give you suggestions as to better fire proof your property. Your home owners insurance can help you with this as well. Have a good accurate GPS grid coordinate & Latitude/Longitude for your location in the event that you get trapped by fire or other emergency. Use fire resistant shingles on the roof. Cell phones are a good thing but reception is not always very good. Good luck!






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 06-06-2003, 14:49 Post: 56902
AC5ZO

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 Living in the Fire Zone

As it turns out, I live in a very dry area of New Mexico and fire is always a danger. I also happen to be an amateur radio operator and AC5ZO is my call sign.

As said, clear the flamable stuff away from your site.

I would consider building a lake, pond or storage tank for water. A well cannot deliver enough flow for fire fighting and if the streams are not continuous, you should have your own reservoir. You obivously have a CUT or interest in one, so I would also consider a water pump for the PTO.

I think that it is also a good idea to take basic survival and first aid courses when you can.

Traveling...I drive a Hummer H2, but Jeeps, and other 4X4s will do nicely. A four stroke dirt bike will go through just about anything and gets excellent gasoline milage. My wife drives a Jeep Wrangler with some modifications.

Communications...Ham radio is a good option. Hams put up repeaters on many mountain tops. For me I can cover NM, and parts of CO, AZ, and TX with a small handheld VHF portable radio the size of a large cell phone. I can also make telephone calls through the same system from my ham radio. I don't know what the hams in your area might have put up, but it is worth a look. We even have satellites.

New GPS units have maps and are WAAS enabled for 10 ft accuracy. I paid $150 for my last handheld GPS with map and accessories. The GPS can be coupled to your ham radio to report your position to within 10 ft. This is called APRS and it works well. APRS can be coupled into the Internet and folks that you authorize can see where you are at any time from a website. This applies to emergency rescue workers. You can of course turn this off if you don't want to be tracked, but it is a good thing if you are hunting alone or off roading.

Beyond the handheld radio, I also use a shortwave transmitter that will cover my entire state and all the surrounding states with a modest antenna setup and 100W. On different shortwave frequencies, you might get coverage in your state, or you could communicate nationally and even internationally. You can even send email via the radio.

Email me directly if you need more info.






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 06-06-2003, 14:58 Post: 56908
kwschumm



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 Living in the Fire Zone

A few years ago we built a house in a heavily forested area, and learned a lot. Here are some rambling thoughts.

First of all you will want to talk to the fire authorities responsible for your area. They will tell you what is required as far as clearing vegetation away from your structures, driveway requirements so they can get their equipment into the area if needed, and what the requirements are for water. They may require you to put in a retention pond for water storage and likely will have suggestions for emergency communication.

When you build you will want to consider fire prevention in your designs. For example, concrete walls are pretty fireproof. In our case we stick framed the house but used HardiPlank siding (cement-fiber siding), built our deck out of Ipe wood (this stuff is so dense it won't float, won't burn, and bugs won't eat it), and used fire rated roof shingles. I have heard that metal roofing is POOR for fire because it conducts heat so well. It may be a good idea or even code that you install fire sprinklers.

You'll want to make sure that any motorized equipment you or contractors use have spark arrestors. This was another reason I went with JD - Kubota and NH didn't have spark arrestors for their tractors. Well, Kubota said one was coming but was a month or two away. When using equipment outside during fire season you will want to make sure you have a fire extinguisher nearby.

Obviously as time goes by you will have to keep the vegetation cut back. Firs grow really fast!

Best of luck with your project.






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 06-06-2003, 15:43 Post: 56917
AC5ZO

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 Living in the Fire Zone

I did not talk about construction before. One friend in a fire area replaced his burned house with cinder block construction. Mine is heavy stucco over frame. It will be pretty resistant to a ground fire.

Metal roofing is used in many of the wooded areas of NM. One problem with metal roofing is the amount of damage that does occur if you do get a fire, which often comes from inside the structure not outside. The metal captures the heat and transfers it laterally. The entire structure can become involved in short order and the fire fighters have a harder time opening the roof to ventilate. My house uses ceramic tile, but concrete tiles and slate are also good.

Spark arrestors are a good idea. You can add a device to any vehicle called a SuperTrapp. It is a baffle and spark arrestor arrangement that can be welded on to any exhaust pipe. They are not expensive. I have them on my dirt bikes and on a VW Baja Bug that is for offroad use.

One other point is that if you are in a fire zone, you are also in a zone where power disruption is possible or perhaps even common. A backup generator is a good idea. There are other threads here that discuss that extensively.






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 06-06-2003, 15:47 Post: 56921
plots1

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 Living in the Fire Zone

arent them supertraps ajustable for back pressure also. I see alot of street rods running them.






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 06-06-2003, 15:56 Post: 56926
AC5ZO

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 Living in the Fire Zone

Yes they are adjustable. You can even get by without a muffler if they are properly set up. They use a sort of washer as a baffle and you add washers to open them up or remove washers as needed.

Generally it is better to keep them somewhat restricted to enhance low end torque and reduce the noise.






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 06-07-2003, 07:50 Post: 57011
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 Living in the Fire Zone

I live in a similar area and I am a volunteer fire fighter. Most people around here have a bunch of powder type extinguishers for structural fires and shovels for yard fires. They call us for any sizable bush fires and we call the water bomber people if we can't contain it. We don't have the training or equipment to fight structure or vehicle fires but we can keep a fire from getting to a structure.

I suppose that any water may be better than none but actually sand is probably better if only a couple of people are available. The reality of water for a bush fire is that you need 70-lbs. pressure and about that many gpm minimum to do effective suppression. The pumps that can deliver this performance are specialized and one or two people can't manage the pumps and hose.

Except at the very initial stages, you have to suppress a fire rather than put it out. Usually spraying water around the periphery for hours is required and few wells can keep up with a fire pump. However, our township acquired a 1000-gallon water tanker with a mounted fire pump last fall that has proved invaluable for initial suppression until hoses can be run from distant water sources. A few hundred gallons isn't going to do much--especially if a tank can't be refilled. The reality of living in this type area is if a structure fire gets beyond the ability of powder type extinguisher then the structure is likely to be lost before anybody with training and equipment can get to it. It also takes a lot more equipment than is feasible for most property owners to have to suppress a wild fire. Taking time to rig a hose and pump and then taking a hose inside the house is more likely to kill an untrained poorly equipped fighter than it is to save the house.

Doing a web search on forestry or wild fire fighting equipment will identify companies that sell equipment for cottage protection. I would keep in mind that it is expensive stuff and also a single person can't manage the bigger pumps and the smaller ones have limited effectiveness.

I qualify annually as a volunteer fighter and training sessions are frequent. Anything generally effective takes training and equipment. I think the best thing to do is try to get the local municipality to organize and equip a volunteer force if one doesn't exist. Also try to get the municipality to enter into agreements with nearby forces or senior governments for protection if agreements aren't already in place. You really don't want to try to save a house that's already lost and kill yourself in the trying or get trapped trying to suppress a wild fire.







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 06-07-2003, 08:54 Post: 57017
Peters

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 Living in the Fire Zone

I might consider a structure like our barn (see my pictures). If you use steel studs for the roof and stucco there is little to burn and the house is very well insulated. You could easily addapt the style to mission or Adobe if you wanted to stay with the south west style.






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 06-09-2003, 01:01 Post: 57141
DeTwang



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 Living in the Fire Zone

Thanks guys, good suggestions so far. Regarding a pond, how much water is enough?

The well water holding tank is PVC and holds about 1000 gallons. Would this be something that is usefull in a fire situation, or would something more substantial be required. What about automatic fire sprinklers? What would be required in the way of a pump and what would be required in the way of a resevoir?

Also, almost every home in the area seems to be covered with wood siding. Is there a reason why stucco isn't used? Is it problematic in some way in the colder climates. Does it not hold heat well. It seems that it would be cheaper to me than wood or synthetic siding, and much more fire resistant.

Also, regarding those new imitation roofing shingles made from concrete, how much heavier are they? Is extra structural support required? How well do they work in cold and snow climate?






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