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Texas Emergency Management ONLINE 2016 Vol. 63 No. 8

Message From The Chief – August 2016

Wildfire icon

Well before the dog days of August arrived, much of Texas had already endured unusually hot weather.

Even as flood recovery was underway, many regions across the state began to experience record high temperatures as well as record extended periods at record high temperatures. After the rain stopped and dry conditions began to increase, more and more counties across Texas implemented outdoor burn bans.

Most wildfires in Texas are preventable, because, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service, people cause most wildfires in Texas, 9 out of 10 in fact. Of all the human-caused wildfires, the majority were started as a result of careless behavior and careless outdoor burning.

Rural and Wildland Fires
A burn ban does not have to be in effect for outdoor burning to be illegal. Negligently allowing a fire to escape to someone else's property is a Class C misdemeanor. If you are planning on burning brush and debris, visit the Texas A&M Forest Service website to learn how to safely burn. For example, you should:

  • Learn about wildfire danger levels
  • Avoid burning on windy days
  • Understand what weather conditions and changes are expected
  • Establish burn control lines
  • Keep water and hand tools nearby
  • Stay with outdoor fires until they're completely out

If you plan to camp this summer at one of Texas' many parks or other outdoor areas, learn about campfire safety. Many state parks do not allow open fires, but if they do, make sure the place you decide to pitch your tent is also a suitable place for a fire.

Wildfires can also devastate agricultural areas. Agricultural and welding equipment can cause sparks and the hot exhaust pipes and catalytic converters underneath vehicles can easily ignite dry grass and brush. Before operating equipment in potentially volatile areas ensure that it is well maintained and that it is prudent to use in certain locations. After that, pay attention to what you're doing.

Urban Fire Danger

As the population in Texas continues to grows, more and more people are building homes and businesses in areas that are prone to wildfire. Most wildfires occur within two miles of a community, putting thousands of communities at risk for wildfire. As with any hazard, preparedness and prevention is vital to reducing your community's risk for wildfire.

It's no surprise that summer is hot in Texas, and most Texans are aware that many places around the state are struggling under the heat and drying up. Since we can't change the weather conditions, we must be extra vigilant about what we're doing in our increasingly volatile surroundings.

Protecting Your Community
Campfire Safety
Equipment Use & Maintenance

Chief W. Nim Kidd, MPA, CEM® TEM®
Follow @chiefkidd on Twitter

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