Kim Bass: Tips For Home Wildfire Protection

Wednesday, October 30, 2019 - by Kim Bass, president, Greater Chattanooga Realtors

Almost three years ago, wildfires destroyed close to a thousand acres of some of the most beautiful parts of our community. Parts of Lookout and Signal Mountains were devastated, and unfortunately, the wildfires that continue to rage in different parts of our country serve as a reminder that we must remain vigilant against this threat.

With that in mind, fortify your home like the castle it is with these 13 wildfire-repelling steps. But keep in mind that no product or technique is a failsafe against a raging fire. Here are a few suggestions from the National Association of Realtors.

Check Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors. If you don’t already have working smoke detectors or haven’t tested them recently, make that your first job.

Check Fire Extinguishers. And if you don’t have them, get them.

Get a Bucket, Shovel, and Hose Ready. Have an easily accessible bucket, shovel (to dig a trench to protect against encroaching ground fire), and connected garden hose to help you defend the area around your home.

Invest in Rain Barrels. An extra source of water can’t hurt. And rain barrels save on your water bills, too.

Clear Yard of Debris. Keep gutters, porches, and the lawn free of debris, leaves, and fallen branches. If a fire threat is imminent, remove furniture and decorations from decks and porches, including welcome mats.

Plant Fire-Resistant Shrubs and Annuals. Like irises, rhododendrons, hostas, and lilacs, which have high-moisture content. Your local Cooperative Extension Office can advise you on appropriate species for your area.

Remove Tree Branches Lower Than 6 Feet. Fires tend to start low and rise. For that reason, don’t plant shrubs directly under trees; they can combust and cause the fire to rise up the tree. By the way, spacing out all plants and shrubs is a good practice, too.

Remove Tree Limbs Near Chimneys. Keep them at least 10 feet away. Embers from burning limbs could fall in.

Set Up a Protective Perimeter. Create a 100-foot perimeter around your home, free of dry leaves, grass, and shrubs that fuel wildfires. Keep petroleum tanks, cars, and woodpiles outside of this safe zone.

Use Rocks Instead of Mulch Next to the House. Lay a six-inch swath of decorative rocks closest to the home and then use mulch from there. This also helps repel insects, like termites, (bugs like wood) and facilitate rainwater drainage.

Use Non-Flammable Fencing. If you have wood fencing around your home, replace any three-foot sections that attach to the home with metal or other non-flammable fencing material. A metal gate or decorative fencing piece is stylish as well as fire-unfriendly.

Cover Chimneys and Vents With Flame-Retardant Mesh. And it’s cheap to do. They cost just a few dollars from hardware or home improvement stores.

Check Your Siding. Fire-resistant or non-combustible siding like stucco or brick provides the best protection against fire. Make sure your siding, whatever type, is in good repair, because if the plywood or insulation are exposed, the home is more vulnerable to flames.

Some experts recommend spraying homes with fire retardants, which can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on the product, region, and size of the project. But some of the chemicals used to make flame-retardants have toxic properties. Although you might have less exposure to chemicals used on your home’s exterior than those inside, toxicity issues could still be a factor.

Most importantly, if a wildfire is on its way you should evacuate. Having an evacuation plan worked out with your family before a fire happens is a great way to be prepared for the unforeseen. As Realtors®, we urge our clients and our community to do their best to prepare for natural disasters. That’s Who We R.

Greater Chattanooga Realtors is The Voice of Real Estate in Greater Chattanooga. A regional organization with more than 2,000 members, Greater Chattanooga Realtors is one of some 1,300 local boards and associations of Realtors® nationwide that comprise the National Association of Realtors®. Greater Chattanooga Realtors service Hamilton and Sequatchie counties in southeast Tennessee, and Catoosa, Dade, and Walker counties in northwest Georgia. For more information, visit or call 698-8001.

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