Appendix 1 – Fire Fighting For Homeowners (Safety & Techniques)
Personal Preparation and Safety – Test your body by cutting brush during the hottest part of the day. If this fatigues you, you may not be in shape for fighting fire. Clearing more brush early in the season will make you more fit, and for less work when the fire comes.
Clothing – See Appendix 2.
Tools – One shovel per person, other advanced fire tools, McCleods, pulaskis and back pumps.
Water – Place hoses at every corner of the house (50 – 100’) with an adjustable nozzle.
If there is a flammable roof have a hose on the roof. Spray water at the base of the flames on the burning material, not at the flames in the air.
Don’t waste water!
Only wet roof and deck if you have power and unlimited water supply, otherwise save for use on flame or embers. An additional water supply is very important. You should design a system using gravity or gas powered pump, as in most cases there will be no power during a fire.
Start monitoring for embers as soon as they begin to fall. They tend to roll off the roof and accumulate within 10 feet of the foundation. When heavy smoke starts to come over your house, then ember can start to fall. Smaller embers may self extinguish, but larger hot embers need to be put out with water or placed in a bucket or water. If you still have electrical service and unlimited amount of water, start sprinklers when embers begin to fall.
Unless your are trained in fire fighting and have the right protective clothing, do not directly attack fire flames higher than your knee, as control with garden hoses will be difficult. Use the dry chemical extinguishers on small fires inside the house. They are not as effective on extinguishing grass or brush fires and should not be used on them.
Stay hydrated; do not work to total fatigue, save some energy for escape if necessary. A fatigued person will be unsafe in a fire situation. Pace yourself, know your limits.
Drinking water during any physical activity is very important and reduces fatigue. Frequent small drinks of water help to prevent heat injuries. One may consume up to a gallon of water when fighting fire. Drink before thirsty.
Consider purchasing backpack fire fighting equipment. Most will weigh 50 lbs full. Herbicide sprayer have too fine of water stream to fight a flame front. They can be retrofitted with a ¼ nozzle that will provide the volume of water to extinguish the fire.