Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Many January House Fires Caused by Dry Christmas Trees

With the holiday now behind us, O Christmas tree, how saggy are your branches? The gifts have been removed from under the pine, the tree is swiftly losing its coat of green, and the needles are piling up on the floor, which means it’s time to remove the tree from your home.

Christmas trees are very flammable, dry out the longer they remain in the home, and can be consumed by fire in a matter of seconds.” All trees can burn, though dry ones can be engulfed by flames significantly more quickly.

National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) statistics indicate that nearly 40 percent of home fires that begin with Christmas trees occur in January. Although these fires are not common, they are much more likely to be serious when they do occur. On average, one of every 31 reported home structure Christmas tree fires resulted in a death. Compare that to an average of one death per 144 total reported home structure fires.

Christmas trees are decorations, and people may want to continue the festive spirit and leave up their ever-drying pines long after the last of the gifts have been opened. It’s good to remember, however, that the longer the tree remains in the home, the greater the fire risk becomes.

We hope that by educating people about the extreme fire hazards, people will be prompted to remove their trees in a timely manner, giving their families the gift of fire safety as the season winds down!

If available, NFPA recommends using the local community’s recycling program for tree disposal. Trees should not be put in the garage or left outside.

NFPA also offers tips on removing lighting and decorations from trees to ensure they are taken down safely this year and in the right condition for Christmas 2016:
  • Use the gripping area on the plug when unplugging electrical decorations. Never pull the cord to unplug any device from an electrical outlet, as this can harm the wire and insulation of the cord, increasing the risk for shock or electrical fire.
  • As you pack up light strings, inspect each line for damage, throwing out any sets that have loose connections, broken sockets or cracked or bare wires.
  • Wrap each set of lights and put them in individual plastic bags, or wrap them around a piece of cardboard.
  • Store electrical decorations in a dry place away from children and pets where they will not be damaged by water or dampness.
For additional resources and information for a fire-safe winter season, visit “Put a Freeze on Winter Fires.”

[ This article is from the National Fire Protection Association's website at }

Monday, November 23, 2015

Jackson County Fire District 3 Offers Free Smoke Alarms and Installation

If you live in the community of White City, Central Point, Eagle Point, Sam’s Valley, Gold Hill,   Agate Lake and Dodge Bridge, Jackson County Fire District 3 is offering you FREE smoke alarms and installation service. In addition, a home fire safety check will be conducted to help keep you safe from fire.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), three out of five fire deaths occur in properties without working smoke alarms.  Taking action today could make the difference between life and death tomorrow. John Patterson, Jackson County Fire District 3 Fire Marshal, said, "We have seen the devastation fires cause first hand; having properly installed smoke alarms is a precaution that can prevent countless tragedies. Don't let tragedy strike your family - be prepared. Early notification allows for early evacuation to safety"

The free home fire safety check takes about 20 minutes and can be scheduled at the resident’s convenience. According to the Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Office, 10- year battery- operated smoke alarms need to be installed outside bedrooms within 21 feet of all bedroom doors, on each level of the home (including basements), in bedrooms (if required by the state building code at the time of construction), and all smoke alarms are to be installed according to the manufactures recommendations.

In addition to installation, fire personnel will cover the following topics:

·         Supply and install lifesaving, free home smoke alarms or ensure that your existing alarms are in working order.

·         Help identify potential fire safety issues and provide advice on how to enhance the fire safety of your home.

·         Help prepare an emergency escape plan in the event of fire.

·         Assist with specialized equipment for deaf and hearing impaired people.

If you would like to schedule a smoke alarm installation and/or home fire safety check, please call 541-831-2778.


Fire District 3 Giving Away $10k In-Home Sprinkler System  

Fire District 3 is hosting their first ever in-home sprinkler giveaway for residents in the Fire District 3 service area. Alvarez Construction and Pacific Fire Protection are collaborating on the project to make one lucky resident’s home safer against the threat of fire. The application process is open now, and a winner will be announced on February 1, 2016.

The purpose of the giveaway is to enhance the overall fire safety of a residence, to minimize the direct and indirect impact of a residential house fire, allow adequate time for occupants to escape   and to help educate the public on the benefits of residential fire suppression sprinkler systems.


Fire District 3 encourages residential fire sprinkler systems due to their ability to react quickly and dramatically reduce the spread of heat, flames and smoke in the home. According to the Oregon Fire Sprinkler Coalition:

·         If you have a fire in your home, the risk of dying decreases by about 80 percent when sprinklers are present

·         Sprinklers reduce direct property damage by about 70 percent per fire

·         Each individual sprinkler is designed and calibrated to go off when it reaches a predetermined temperature

·         Typically only the sprinkler closest to the fire will activate and spray water.

The final awardee will receive the complete design and installation of a residential fire sprinkler system, in accordance with national standards, in a single family residence. Applications must be submitted via the websites,, in- person, or by mail at 8383 Agate Rd, White City, Oregon 97503.


For more information about the application process, please visit, or call 541-826-7100.


Friday, June 19, 2015

Prevent Grass Fires

Many wildfires in southwest Oregon start as grass fires. They start surprisingly easy -- by a lawnmower blade striking a rock, a pickup truck’s exhaust pipe dragging across grass on a dirt road, an electric fence wire snapping against a metal post -- and spread quickly. It doesn’t take very much wind or slope for a grass fire to grow from a fire a few yards in size to a wildfire spanning several acres. To keep a grass fire from turning into a destructive wildfire, seconds count. Plan ahead to use those seconds wisely.

The best way to reduce the chance of a grass fire occurring on your property is to cut tall, dry grass before fire season begins. Roadsides and along driveways are common places for vehicle-caused grass fires to start. Pay special attention to places where vehicles may stop and idle, such as around mailboxes, gates and turnouts. Cutting grass around homes and outbuildings, such as workshops and barns, reduce the chance of accidental fires caused by malfunctioning equipment, smokers and children (or adults) with fireworks.

In all cases, keep informed about fire season restrictions imposed by the Oregon Department of Forestry and your local fire district. Cut tall, dry grass early in the summer -- as soon as the grass begins turning brown -- when fire danger levels are either “low” or “moderate.” Mowing for non-agricultural purposes is restricted as soon as the fire danger level reaches the “high” mark, and completely disallowed once it hits the “extreme” level. Mowing during restricted or disallowed periods may result in a ticket; if a fire results, the person who caused the fire could be billed for fire suppression costs.

Plan ahead so you know what to do if a fire starts. Have basic fire-fighting equipment close at hand – at least five gallons of water, a fire extinguisher in every vehicle and building, and a shovel. Burlap sacks are also useful; wet them down with water and use the wet sacks to beat down flames. In all cases, have a way to call for help, such as a telephone or a citizen’s band radio. Always know your escape routes and check them frequently.

If a fire starts, immediately call 9-1-1 and tell the dispatcher the address of the property on which the fire is burning. If you caused the fire, you have a legal responsibility to try and keep the fire from spreading. Never battle a grass fire by standing between the flames and unburned grass. Grass fires change direction without warning, and even a small grass fire can be deadly. Instead, fight the fire from inside the blackened area that the fire has already burned. Work along the cooler flanks by putting out small flames. Aim water and fire extinguisher streams at the base of the flames, not the tops.

But the best way to fight a grass fire is to prevent it from starting.

Electric fences

A strand of electric fencing tape or wire that is within arcing range of a t-post or metal gate can generate a spark each time the transformer pulses. If tall, dry grass or weeds are within range of the spark, a fire could start and quickly spread. It takes only a breeze or a gentle slope to turn a small grass fire into a swiftly spreading wildfire that could threaten homes, barns and other outbuildings. To keep such fires from starting, trim tall grass wherever electric fencing is strung. Check connections often to ensure arcing isn’t occurring anywhere along the fence’s path. Position a line tester within easy view of the home and make a habit of checking the flash often. If the tester’s flash is weak, or isn’t flashing at all, there’s a short -- possibly a spark-generating one -- somewhere along the fence line.


Hot exhaust pipes can easily start a grass fire if the vehicle drives over or parks on top of dry grass. Hot particles of carbon from a vehicle’s exhaust pipe can also cause a grass fire. Ensure the exhaust systems on farm vehicles are in good condition, and that four-wheelers and motorcycles have spark arresters. Mow commonly used roads and trails prior to fire season. It is important to mow the centerline of a farm road as well as several feet on each side of the road. This will reduce the chance of fires being sparked by hot exhaust pipes and carbon particles.

Take care when using jumper cables to start a car that has a dead battery. Improper use of jumper cables can easily generate a strong spark, sufficient to start a wildfire -- and potentially destroy an incapacitated vehicle.

In all cases, carry a fully charged fire extinguisher in each vehicle and ensure the operator knows how to use it. Carry a shovel should it be necessary to construct fire line, or defend the vehicle, an outbuilding, or yourself against a grassfire. Finally, carry a working cell phone or CB radio in each vehicle so that help can be summoned if necessary.


Machinery used to cut tall, dry grass can cause a fire especially if accumulations of cut grass become lodged beneath the machine. Striking a rock with a whirling blade is all it takes to set off a fire that could destroy the machine and cause a wildfire. Heat and sparks thrown from the machine itself can also cause a fire. A good way to avoid such problems is to perform routine maintenance on the machine. Clear away buildups of cut grass that have become lodged underneath the machine. Sharpen blades and ensure they are not bent or misaligned. Check exhaust pipes for holes. If a spark arrester is supposed to be installed in the exhaust system, ensure the screen is positioned correctly, and is clean and functional. Ensure the fuel system is not leaking, and check the electrical system for frayed wires and poor connections.

As with any other vehicle, make sure there is a fire extinguisher on board, a shovel close at hand, and a means for summoning help.

Get Expert Advice

Every piece of property is different, and each has unique fire-prevention problems to solve. A visit from a local fire prevention professional can answer those questions and provide you with realistic answers that you can use in your fire prevention strategy. Call the Oregon Department of Forestry or your local fire district to schedule a free fire prevention inspection.

Ten Things to Do Around Your House for Wildfire Safety

  1. Keep all grass and weeds cut short – no more than 4 inches tall.
  2. Make sure all gutters are clean.
  3. Move all firewood or lumber at least 30 feet away from the house.
  4. Remove all fallen needles and bark mulch within 18 inches of the foundation and replace with gravel.
  5. Make sure all dead vegetation is removed from landscaping around the house.
  6. Remove highly combustible vegetation such as junipers that are close to the house.
  7. Eliminate “ladder fuels” – such as ground-hugging tree branches that can carry flames up to the crowns of trees.
  8. Remove combustible materials that may be stored under the deck.
  9. Trim trees to keep branches at least 10 feet from the house and provide open space between trees.
  10. Cover the house’s vent openings with 1/8-inch wire mesh to prevent embers from blowing into (or under) the structure.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Plan Ahead and Be Ready for Emergency Evacuation

For more information about evacuation preparedness in Jackson and Josephine counties, see

Monday, June 1, 2015

Lightning Tracks Through Josephine County on Sunday

A lively thunderstorm brought dozens of lightning strikes and quite a lot of rain to much of Josephine County on Sunday. So far, no fires have been found on ODF-protected lands. Dispatchers will be monitoring fire detection cameras today, and engine crews will be going to high points in the Grants Pass Unit to watch for smokes.

To view maps of where the lightning struck, see the SWOData website.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Smokey Bear to Visit Elementary Schools This Spring

Members of the Rogue Valley Fire Prevention Cooperative will take Smokey Bear to Kindergarten and First Grade students throughout Jackson and Josephine counties in late April and early May. Smokey will be accompanied by local firefighters to remind young students not to play with matches or lighters, and that firefighters are their friends.

Here are Smokey Bear’s Five Points of Fire Safety:
  • Smokey’s friends never play with matches or lighters;
  • If lighters or matches are found lying around, ask an adult to put them in a safe place;
  • If these items are found on the school ground, ask a teacher or an adult to remove them;
  • If they are found on the way to the school bus, ask the bus driver to pick them up and dispose of them safely;
  • To report a fire, ask a parent or other adult to call 9-1-1.
Smokey Bear's Team Teaching program has been an activity of the Rogue Valley Fire Prevention Cooperative since 1976.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Burn Debris Safely and Legally

Open Burning of yard debris and burn barrels is tightly regulated in both Jackson and Josephine Counties. Many fire districts and cities require burn permits and limit the days you are allowed to burn.

Please call your local fire district or the appropriate county burn advisory number, For Jackson County, the number is (541) 776-7007 and for Josephine County the number is (541) 476-9663. Always call before you burn.

Always attend your burn pile or burn barrel.

Never burn prohibited material, only yard debris.

Be safe. Don’t burn on windy days.

Consider alternatives to burning, such as chipping, composting and biomass recycling.

If your burn pile fire gets out of control, call 9-1-1 immediately.

For more information, see:

Friday, February 27, 2015

Oregon Ranks in Top Five of National Wildfire Risk Study

People in the West love living outside of major cities, which means they've built homes in urban fringe and rural areas where wildfires are common. As a result, more and more homes will be threatened by wildfires in the years ahead.

A national risk analysis for insurance companies puts Texas first in the high risk category, with California second and Oregon third.

But high isn't the worst. Very high is, and Oregon ranks fourth in that category.

Where's the state's hottest spot? The Bend-Redmond area in central Oregon.

See the Wildfire Today article about the study here.

Friday, February 13, 2015

It's Time to Check Your Smoke Alarms

In the event of a fire, properly installed and maintained smoke alarms will provide an early warning alarm to your household. The alarm could save your own life and those of your loved ones by providing early detection and the chance to escape.

A working smoke alarm should be place outside every bedroom and on every level of the home. Residents that are hearing impaired should install additional alarms inside the bedroom. There are alarms that use strobe lights that flash or vibrate to assist in alerting those who are hearing impaired.

Remember that having smoke alarms with dead batteries is the same as having no alarm at all. Batteries should be checked at least once a year. While you are checking the battery, be sure to remove any dust, as dust can also damage your smoke alarm’s sensitivity.

Studies show that untested smoke alarms lose about half of their dependability after a 5 to 7 year period. Smoke alarms should be replaced about every 8 to 10 years.

It’s time to check your smoke alarms!!

Kidde Fire Extinguisher Recall

Kidde is recalling 31 models of plastic disposable fire extinguishers, approximately 4.7 million units in the United States and Canada. The fire extinguishers have a faulty valve component and may not discharge. 

Click here for more information.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Wildfire Community Preparedness Day

This year’s national Wildfire Community Preparedness Day is Saturday, May 2. To assist in local projects being implemented, sixty-five $500 project funding awards will be provided through generous support from State Farm. The deadline to apply is Thursday, March 5, at 11:59pm ET - the short application is easy to complete and only takes a few minutes. Details available in Fire Break and on

A wide-range of free materials can be accessed on the site’s Resources Page. Available options include: flyers, postcards, logos, web and email banners and Facebook/Twitter profile photo images. Flyers and postcards are available in multiple formats including a customizable version for local events/projects. Attached is a pdf of the flyer for easy sharing. Add the web banner to your site and encourage projects and participation.

Last year, activities were completed by individuals, neighborhoods and community groups working to reduce their wildfire risk and make their communities a safer place to live.

Contact the National Fire Protection Association if you have questions or need additional information.