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Firebreaks - A Good Neighbor Policy

Texas Forest Service


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    •  This raging fire is well on its way to cause extensive damage to this man's property and that of his neighbor, all because he didn't follow simple rules of safety before burning his field. 
    •  Records kept by the Texas Forest Service show that about fourteen percent of all wildfires are caused by the careless burning of fields without firebreaks, or with poor firebreaks. 
    •  These wildfires damage thousands of acres of our forested land each year. Such fires also destroy homes, barns and other outbuildings, livestock, farm equipment, stored hay and grain, fencing, and sometimes even human life. 
    •  Firebreaks are good insurance against such fire losses. Established and maintained around valuable woodlands and improved property, they are like the fire insurance policy on your home. 
    •  Firebreaks are easy to construct with either a mule or a tractor and a plow, and maintaining them with a farm disk costs very little. When plowing firebreaks in heavy grassed areas, it may be necessary to disk it more than once. If the firebreak is not completely clear of dry grass, then you're taking a chance of a fire crossing. 
    •  Good firebreaks will prevent fire from coming onto your property. Also, if you burn your own field correctly, the firebreaks will help keep your fire under control and prevent its spread to your neighbor's property. 
    •  It's important to know and follow these well-proven rules when burning a field. 
    •  First, plowed firebreaks are most important around and within an area to be burned. They should be at least five feet wide, but preferably ten. The wider a firebreak, the harder it is for the fire to cross. 
    •  Then, select the right time to burn. The best time is in the late afternoon, when the wind is low, or after a rain. Never burn a field when the wind is high, or when the grass is powder dry. If in doubt as to the best time to burn, call your nearest Texas Forest Service representative. 
    •  Next, tell your neighbors and nearest Texas Forest Service representative that you plan to burn. If your neighbors know, they may wish to help. Wouldn't you help a neighbor in such a case? 
    •  Have adequate help and equipment on hand, not only to burn the area properly, but to handle the fire if it gets out of control. The help of neighbors has prevented many wildfires. 
    •  Limit the size of your fire so you can control it. You can do this by dividing the area to be burned with plowed firebreaks. A small fire is much easier to control and not as apt to get away from you. 
    •  When burning fields, set your fire to burn into the wind. This will guarantee a slower burning fire, which is much easier to control. A fire that burns with the wind travels faster and can easily get out of hand. 
    •  Firebreaks are a good neighbor policy, and good neighbors work together. Have you discussed a mutual firebreak plan with your neighbors? 
    •  If you need advice on firebreak construction, talk to your nearest representative of the Texas Forest Service. He'll be glad to help you. 
    •  Remember, wildfire damage to valuable timber and improved property can be reduced with firebreaks. Be a good neighbor; plow firebreaks. Both you and your neighbor will be glad you did. 
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    In this film produced by the Texas Forest Service, the use of firebreaks in the prevention of wildfire is explained and their importance emphasized.

    Established as a result of the organization of the Texas Forest Association in 1914 and the forestry law passed by the Texas legislature in 1915 the Texas Forest Service is directed by a state forester appointed by the board of directors of Texas A&M College. When it was founded, the objectives of the Texas Forest Service were to persuade and aid private owners of forest land in practicing forestry and converting submarginal agricultural lands to productive forests; to protect private forest lands against forest wildfires, insects, and disease; to inform the public of the contribution that forests, a renewable natural resource, make to the economy of the state; to educate Texans in uses and abuses of forest products; and to assist forest products industries in developing new products and improving production techniques. Currently, the Texas Forest Service's mission focuses on providing statewide leadership to assure the state's trees, forests and related natural resources are protected and sustained for the benefit of all.