Wildfire Risk Reduction
Census figures for the first decades of the 21st century show more people in the Northeastern U.S. moving from suburban to rural areas to make their home near or within the forest. As forested areas on the east coast are logged and subdivided into building lots, fuels such as logging slash and volatile understory vegetation are left on site, increasing the potential for wildfires. Firefighters call the area where homes and development meet and intermingle with undeveloped wildland the “Wildland Urban Interface”.
People moving into the wildland urban interface are not familiar with their new environment. They make choices which increase the potential for their homes to be destroyed by wildfire. In addition, with more people there is increased risk of fires caused by debris burning, equipment use, smoking, campfires and arson. While broadcast media give more coverage to spectacular western wildfires, more fires occur east of the Mississippi River than west. Wildland fire does impact Pennsylvania.
In the wildland urban interface it is especially important to properly plan new housing areas and to develop good standards for existing ones. Planning for wildland fire protection considers local fire codes, roofing materials, landscaping and road placement.