Fire Wise: Keeping fire safe

By: Brenda Keen

Last week I began an article to make the public aware of how to protect their homes from fire.

This week I want to get each homeowner to analyze their own home by taking a couple of minutes to assess their homes by taking this questionnaire. When conducting a meeting for the public, this is always a good start and get people to thinking about whether they truly have a “FIREWISE” home.

Please take 2 minutes and ask yourself these questions.

Directions: Answer each question the points that are listed in response. If the question does not apply, score it zero. At the end, total your points and determine the risk hazard for your home.


1. a. Mailbox or 911 address is clearly marked with 4 inch tall by ½ inch wide reflective letters (0 pts)

b. Mailbox is clearly marked but difficult to read. (5 pts)

c. Address is not marked. (10 pts)

2. a. Drive is at least 12 feet wide with 15 feet vertical clearance for emergency vehicles. If there is a gate, it is 30 feet from the road, 2 feet wider than the drive, opens inward, and has a key if needed (0)

b. Drive in less than 12 feet wide and cleared of brush. (5 pts)

c. Drive is obstructed with no access for emergency vehicles.


3. a. Home exterior has flame/heat resistant brick, stucco or metal. (0 pts)

b. Home has vinyl siding (10 pts)

c. Home has wood or cedar shake siding. (15 pts)

4. a. Roof consist of fire resistant materials such as tin, tile or asphalt shingles (0pt)

b. Roof has cedar shingles. (15 pts)

5. a. Chimney has a spark arrestor and is capped. (0 pts)

b. Chimney is not caped. (5 pts)

6. a. Gutter s are cleaned of debris. Eaves are boxed. (0 pts)

b. Gutters are not cleaned. Eaves are not boxed. (15 pts)

7. a. Windows are double pane, tempered glass. (0 pts)

b. Windows are single pane. (5 pts)

8. a. Attic vent is covered with 1/8 inch screened mesh (0pt)

b. Attic vent is not covered. (5 pt)

9. a. Deck is screened underneath with lattice and 1/8 inch screened mesh,(0 pts)

b. Deck is not screened. (10pts)

10. a. Wood fencing or trellis is less than 1- feet from the house or is non- combustible. (0 pts)

b. Wood fence or trellis is less than 10 feet from the house. (5 pts)


11: a. Property is landscaped with drought-resistant plants. Shrubs are at least 5 feet from structures. Gravel, compost or chunky bark is used to mulch. (0 pts)

b. Shrubs and other landscaping are less than 5 feet from the home. Flammable materials such as wood chips or grass have been used for mulch. (10 pts)

12. a. Over hanging limbs have been trimmed to 10 feet from structures. (0 pts)

b. Overhanging limbs are less than 10 feet from structures (5 pts)


13. a. Home has 100 feet or more space cleared from the wildland-urban interface (0 pt)

b. Home has 30 to 100 feet of defensible space. (3pts)

c. Home has less than 30 feet of defensible space (10 pts)

14. a. Firewood and propane gas tanks are at least 30 feet from structures. (0 pts)

b. Firewood is stacked near the house. LP tank is less than 30 feet from the home. (5 pts; 10 pts if gas tank is obstructed with over grown bush)

15. a. Outbuildings are equipped with accessible rake, shovel, ladder and hose. (0pts)

b. Outbuildings are not equipped with tools. (5 pts)

Score values:

11 points or fewer Congratulations! You have a Firewise home

12 – 30 points Low to moderate hazard

31 – 81 points Moderate to high hazard

82 125 points High to extreme hazard means that the chances of your home surviving to wildfire are slim. Changes are needed.

If you would like to have a Firewise meeting conducted, please contact Brenda Keen at 662-242-5173. Firewise is sponsored in partnership with the Winston County Board of Supervisors and the Mississippi State Extension Service, Winston County.

Check list questionnaire provided through Mississippi Firewise Handbook