SLCFD stressing defensible space in wildfire safety message to residences

May 11, 2024, 5:05 PM | Updated: 5:34 pm

SALT LAKE CITY 5-year-old Anahi Burgon was busy Saturday morning.

Since it was a nice day, she wanted to color pictures on her driveway with her colored chalk.

“It’s a cherry tree,” she said.

While her cherry tree looked like the real thing, it is the other trees, grass, and vegetation near her Salt Lake City home that is getting some attention.

“It’s nice and green now, but it dries out in a month or two and I could imagine that being a problem,” said Gabriel Burgon, Anahi’s father.

Salt Lake City firefighters went door-to-door on Saturday morning to spreading the importance of fire safety with an emphasis on defensible space. (Ray Boone, KSL TV)

The Burgons live on the edge of where the city turns to wildlands.

If a wildfire were to start burning on those wildlands, there is a good chance the entire neighborhood would be evacuated.

“I think having an evacuation plan would be very necessary, especially because of the hills and all,” Gabriel Burgon said.

That is part of the reason why Salt Lake City firefighters went door-to-door in neighborhoods along the northeast bench on Saturday morning.

They were giving flyers to residents letting them know about wildfire safety and the upcoming wildfire season.

Defensible space

One issue firefighters are stressing this year is the importance of defensible space.

That is the area immediately around your home where firefighters would try to protect it from a wildfire if there’s safe space to do so.

“We’re not here to be the landscape police or anything like that, but we encourage you to at least take a look at your property,” said Capt. Scott Winkler of the Salt Lake City Fire Department.

Winkler has spent 14 years at Station 4 in the Avenues, so he knows many people love having trees right up to their homes.

Many homes have defensible space, while others do not.

He pointed out one house that had dozens of trees and thick vegetation right next to it.

“This one would be a challenge for us,” he said.

Winkler also does not blame people for wanting as much natural vegetation as possible.

Tougher to save

However, he also said those houses are tougher to save if a large wildfire comes this way.

“The message I always tell people is, I don’t have a fire engine per house in the event of a fire,” he said. “Our resources are going to be spread really thin. It might be a minute before we get to you. You can help us by doing some of that defensible space prep work beforehand. It gives us a better chance at saving your home.”

It’s nothing a 5-year-old should worry about.

Her dad, though, is thankful firefighters are already thinking about it.

“I think it’s a good idea,” said Gabriel Burgon. “Hopefully, people actually pay attention to it because when it happens, it’s the real deal.”

Firefighters will also do free defensible space assessments for anyone who asks.

Addtional reading:

SLCFD is preparing now for potential wildfires in the future

KSL 5 TV Live

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SLCFD stressing defensible space in wildfire safety message to residences