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Beyond the gates

Aiken, US
4:48 am,
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Woodside Firewise

The areas worked by Firewise volunteers are generally WPPOA common ground areas that have the highest risk of wildfire.   The fuel that can feed a wildfire includes a combination of dead wood, vines, green plants with a high wax content as well as leaf litter and pine straw.

Most wildfires are started by people, such as cigarettes thrown from vehicles.  Wildfires can also be started by lightening strikes to trees and structures.

Wooded areas are divided into zones: low, middle and high — from ground level to tree tops. Firewise activities are designed to reduce the fuel in the lower two zones.

The most dangerous wildfires involve the crown of trees.  These wildfires pose the most serious threat to homes and residents.  Removing fuel in the middle and lower levels reduces the chances of a wildfire reaching the tree tops.

Areas within Woodside Plantation selected for work by volunteers using Firewise techniques are most frequently common areas near streets.  Since the community was developed, many of these areas became overgrown with vines, brushy plants, small trees and dead wood on the ground.  They combine to create a potential wildfire fuel load.

Firewise efforts began in Woodside Plantation in 2014 following a devastating ice storm in February that left huge amounts of broken limbs and fallen trees on our common areas.  After consulting with South Carolina Forestry Commission staff, WPPOA requested a Firewise assessment and applied for a grant to assist with reduction of the wildfire potential within the community.  The community has been awarded a Firewise grant each year since 2015.

Since then more than 4000 volunteer resident man hours have been expended using Firewise methods.  Common areas along Woodside Plantation Dr., East Gate Dr. and South Gate Dr. have been a major part of the focus.  Additional common areas throughout the community have also been worked.

Individual residents and both golf courses use Firewise techniques on their properties.

Selection of areas to be worked by Firewise volunteers consider these factors:

  1. SC Forestry Commission recommendations.
  2. Firewise volunteers using the wildfire risk reduction factors provided by the National Association for Fire Prevention (NAFP).
  3. Resident requests for assistance on common areas near or adjoining their property.
  4. WPPOA Board requests
  5. Other safety factors, such as vehicle sight lines near intersections.

Removal of the debris resulting from Firewise activities is also important.  Grant funds are used to pay for most debris removal.  Both golf clubs also support Firewise debris removal on golf courses and resident properties when the debris can not be reached from a street.

Firewise Leader:  John Carman, © 757 759-2395; jwcarman1@gmail.com