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Keep wildfires at bay

If your facility is in an area susceptible to wildfires, take steps to prepare for the worst—the fire reaching your building. The first step is contacting your Church Mutual Insurance Company representative to make sure you have appropriate insurance coverage. Ideally, you won’t have to file a claim because you’ve sufficiently protected your facility from damage. Here are some helpful wildfire preparedness and prevention tips:

Maintain defensible space

Divide the area around your building into three zones, carefully selecting plants and materials that are appropriate for each zone.

  • Zone 1 (0-5 feet from your building): Install hard surfaces in this zone and avoid planting vegetation. Remove dead plants and growth next to windows and vents. Do not store combustible items near your building.
  • Zone 2 (5-30 feet from your building): There should be at least 10 feet between the crowns of the trees in this zone. Prune branches to a height of up to 15 feet; for shorter trees, do not prune more than up to one-third of the tree’s height.
  • Zone 3 (30 feet from your building to the property line): If you have a steep slope near the outside of your property line, try to flatten it with fill. The steeper the slope, the more likely a wildfire is to spread. Create “islands” of trees and shrubs and remove lower tree branches.

Prepare your facility for evacuation

Sometimes, you have a few days to prepare for an evacuation. Other times, you must leave immediately. Either way, careful planning can make evacuation a much less stressful situation. Keep this list handy so you don’t lose precious time when you need to leave your building.

  • Call 911.
  • Shut off your gas supply. If fire reaches your building, gas will only make it worse.
  • Close all doors and windows. You want to prevent embers from entering your facility and burning it from the inside out.
  • Close all doors in the building to slow fire spread.
  • Turn off the electricity supply to the building. This reduces the possibility of arcs causing additional hot spots.

Create a vegetation management plan (VMP)

Not all trees and shrubs are created alike. A VMP for your facility includes information such as the slope of the land, the location of buildings, environmental concerns such as endangered species and wetlands areas, and possible prevention options such as controlled burning. A landscape professional can help you create the plan and decide what types of vegetation will be least likely to endanger your facility.

Click here to view our wildfire safety infographic.

Church Mutual has partnered with the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) to help protect your organization from natural disasters, such as wildfires. Learn more about how you can prepare for wildfires and find the insurance you need with Church Mutual.