Selecting Firewise Plants

Firewise Plant Characteristics

Firewise plants have a number of characteristics in common, but also can vary considerably. Below are some important points about these plants and their management.

  • No plant is fireproof. All will burn in a very intense fire.
  • Firewise plants all have one or more of these firewise characteristics:
    • Tissues contain more moisture, especially during the fire season.
    • Tissues contain low amounts of volatile oils and other readily flammable chemicals.
    • Plants provide less fuel, either by producing less

Fire Ratings for Construction Materials

Article Written by:
Stephen L. Quarles, Senior Scientist, Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, Richburg, SC



If you live in the wildland urban interface (WUI) you have probably heard or read about terms which describe materials that are recommended for use on your home to improve its chances of surviving a wildfire. These materials are described using terms like noncombustible, non-flammable, ignition resistant, Class A rated and fire-resistant – terms that describe the relative combustibility of materials. Sometimes …

Mike Kuhns

Mike Kuhns, Professor and Extension Forester in the Department of Wildland Resources at Utah State University, promotes fire safety in landscapes. As an Extension forestry expert first in Nebraska and then in Utah, his work moved toward urban forestry, so focusing on landscaping around buildings was a natural topic because he understood the vegetation. Early on he was on a committee that popularized the term ‘firewise’ and developed research and education materials to help people maintain firewise landscapes.

Parts of …

Janean Creighton
















Janean Creighton is an Associate Professor and Extension Specialist for the Oregon State University & USFS Pacific NW Partnership Project.  She is currently the Administrative Director for the Northwest Fire Science Consortium.  Janean’s position focuses on increasing the information delivery and technology transfer capabilities of fuels and fire researchers to managers and practitioners in the field, and integrating USFS Pacific NW Research Station wildfire and fuels research results into existing and emerging extension curricula, publications, and educational programs.  Janean received …

Community Evacuation Plans

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If you are interested in finding out if your community has an evacuation plan contact the local fire department, law enforcement agency, or emergency services department. They will discuss planned evacuation routes, assembly points, how to get evacuation information and tips on evacuation in your community.

Do not wait until a wildfire occurs to attempt to obtain this information as fire and emergency services will be extremely busy. If your community does not have one, meet with your fire department …

Fire Ratings for Roofing Material

Article Written by:
Stephen L. Quarles, Senior Scientist,  Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, Richburg, SC

Fire ratings for roofs are classified as either Class A, Class B, Class C or are unrated if a roof covering cannot meet the requirements for any of these classifications. Class A is the highest rating, offering the highest resistance to fire, and unrated is the worst. Examples of a Class A roof covering include concrete or clay roof tiles, fiberglass asphalt composition …

Window Failure During Wildfires

Article Written by:
Stephen L. Quarles, Senior Scientist, Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, Richburg, SC 

During a wildfire, windows can be exposed to both radiant heat and direct flame contact exposures. Because wind-blown embers (firebrands) can travel up to a mile or more in front of the wildfire, when a wildfire threatens, windows will be exposed to embers. Therefore, the most vulnerable window when a wildfire threatens is one that is left open. Particularly with unscreened windows, embers …

"If in Doubt, Throw it Out" – What to do With Food and Medication After a Wildfire

When should food and medications be discarded after a wildfire? The rule of thumb is if in doubt, throw it out. When you return to your home, you should discard any food, beverages, or medications exposed to heat, smoke, or soot. The potency of some medications can be altered by exposure to heat, so check with your doctor before using any prescription or over-the-counter medicines.

Canned goods that are dented, bulging, or rusted or that have been charred or exposed …

Impact of Oil-Based Penetrating Stains on the Fire Performance of Deck Boards

Article Written by:
Stephen L. Quarles, Senior Scientist, Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, Richburg, SC

Oil-based penetrating stains are often recommended as one of a number of maintenance procedures to extend the useful life of a wood deck. Stains can reduce the amount of water taken up by the wood when wetted, the associated changes in dimension, and the amount of erosion that can result from exposure to sun, rain and wind. Stains can also contain a fungicide …

Wildfire and Its Effects on Streams and Rivers

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Wildfire affects streams and rivers in a multitude of ways, and the health and wealth of a stream environment are reflections of the condition of the surrounding watershed. Stream ecosystems are constantly changing and are often altered by episodic floods and droughts. Erosion is a natural process. Its effects on a stream are highly variable. Add a high-intensity wildfire, and conditions in the stream or river at the bottom of the hill can change rapidly. All of these naturally occurring …