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LAFD Wildfire Tips
Posted by Ryan J. Beard on Sep 5, 2012 - 5:06:07 PM

LOS ANGELES—With the Williams Fire recently erupting in Angeles National Forest, and a dry and hot summer season prone for fires, it is important to understand the dynamics behind wildfires, and how to be prepared in the event a wildfire is burning near your home.


Each day the Los Angeles Fire Department evaluates the BI or Burning Index for the day. The burning index for each day is comprised and measured using several variables.  First the LAFD looks at dead fuel moisture readings each afternoon near Coldwater Canyon. Next, meteorologists at the Southern California Geographic Area Coordination Center or the SCGACC in Riverside, California provide a fire forecast. This fire forecast consists of the expected high temperature, low relative humidity, wind speed and direction for the next day. A combination of strong winds, low humidity, and warm temperatures typically leads to explosive fire growth potential. On days with wind speeds over 25 miles per hour and a relative humidity of 15% or less the LAFD will call a “Red Flag Alert” and may restrict parking on narrow streets in brush areas. Finally, the LAPD evaluates historical data including the highs and low temperature and humidity along with hours of rainfall within the previous 24 hours.


Together, this information combines to form the BI. Below are the numerical ratings for BI:


BI 0 to 37 = Low

BI 38 to 47 = Moderate

BI 48 to 110 = High

BI 111 to 161 = Very High

BI 162 and above = Extreme


In order to prepare for a wildfire the LAFD has outlined an easy to remember, three-step procedure called Ready, Set, Go for those who live in wildfire prone areas.


The LAFD stresses the importance of being prepared in the event of a wildfire. With strong winds wildfires become unpredictable and spread at speeds of 7 to 14 miles an hour.


Ready: To prepare in the event of a wildfire near your home it is important to create a defensible space around your home. This includes clearing brush, removing tree limbs hanging over your roof and making sure shrubbery is set back from the sides of your home and leaves under them cleared away. It is also important to make sure you use fire resistant materials when constructing or remodeling your house. Finally assemble emergency supplies and prepare a list of things you would want to take with you in the event of an evacuation.


Get Set: If a wildfire is threatening your neighborhood it is imperative that you act immediately. The LAFD recommends backing your vehicle into the driveway with the hood facing the street, rolling up the windows and loading your vehicle with everything you wish to take with you. Remove flammable materials from around your house including patio furniture, firewood, decorations and anything else that could catch fire.


Go: Go early! The LAFD states that firefighters need room to work, and by leaving you give them the best chance at protecting your home.


Above is a summarized version of the LAFD Ready, Set, Go! plan; to read the wildfire plan in its entirety and view videos that go along with it, visit



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