As the first round of wild fires is coming to a close, associations should take this brief breather to establish plans and procedures to address these emergency situations. Associations are in a unique position to be able to respond quickly and efficiently to fires and other natural disasters when they have plans and procedures in place.
Associations can adopt policies in regards to living within fire areas, conduct education in relation to fire prevention and prepare important information to provide to local fire and forestry officials to reduce the risk of destruction by fire.
Prior to fire season, the association should take an inventory of its common elements to determine what, if any modifications or area cleaning is required. Systems that have been implemented by other associations in fire areas include, constructing the common areas in such a manner as to create natural fire breaks which helps to slow fires down and gives the first responders a chance to contain the fire.
Associations can also hold educational meetings to discuss fire safety and defensible space around each building or home in the community. Associations might consider inviting local fire fighters to inspect the community and make recommendations in regards to improving the fire defense within the community.
During a fire, an association can provide important information to fire fighters. Such information may include phone numbers of both permanent residents and absentee owners. The association can also establish a meeting place for its community which will permit the association to account for its residents in the event of an evacuation and any information obtained can then be provided to firefighters to appropriately direct fire fighting efforts.
Associations can play a powerful role in the prevention of wild fires and assisting fire fighters with their efforts. In looking at the extreme preparedness, one association went as far as creating a helipad so that helicopters could land and evacuate injured persons.
By preparing the community, providing education, being able to account for residents and providing important information to fire fighters, associations can minimize the potential loss of life and property. Further information can be found at: firewise.com. This web site contains helpful tips along with information to help reduce the risks related to wild fires. These preparations may also assist an association and its owners in obtaining property insurance.