One Mile Barriers to Forest Fires – Controlled Burns and Fuel Breaks 1957-1977

California has had several years of bad forest fires. Many billions of dollars and dozens of lives are being lost each year.

There was an 84-page document that describes the practice of 300 foot to one-mile wide fuel breaks.

There have been repeated calls for more controlled burns and fuel breaks.

Earlier in 2018, there was a proposed new commitment of $1 billion to reduce the risk of megawildfires across the state. The legislation, if signed, would commit $165 million a year for five years to thin forests and $35 million a year for five years to fund prescribed burning projects.

This bill for money for prescribed burns was passed.

Even more money needs to be dedicated to controlled burns. Controlled burns need to be used to help establish fuel breaks.

There is a CalFire plan to triple the amount of controlled burns. There also need to be dedicated extra staff hired to perform the burns on an increased number of burn days.

Fuel Breaks – 100-300 feet but some believe 0.5 to 1 mile width needed to protect cities

The term Fuel Break was created in 1957 but there were the creation of strips of land without trees to contain forests and fire going back to 1886.

In wildland fire control, most fuel modification has been done to establish fuelbreaks-the permanent conversion of vegetation on strategically located areas for fire control which occupy a relatively small part of the total wildland acreage. Other fuel modification practices may be employed on part or all of the land in between the fuelbreaks. In California, where the wildland fire problem is acute, experience has shown that conversion of the vegetation on wide fuelbreak areas to a relatively stable plant cover can greatly reduce maintenance efforts.

The term “fuelbreak” has become widely used since it was first coined in 1957, but it has not always had the same meaning. Essentially it denotes a permanent break, or change, in the fuels themselves.

Fuelbreak-a strategically located wide block, or strip, on which a cover of dense, heavy, or flammable vegetation has been permanently changed to one of lower fuel volume or reduced flammability, as an aid to fire control. (In practice, almost any wide break cleared of all or part of the existing vegetation for fire control purposes is called a fuel break, but the term is misapplied unless long-term maintenance of a new vegetation cover on the cleared area is specifically planned.)

Fuelbreak system-usually, a system of relatively large areas of naturally open vegetation, or converted vegetation cover, all interconnected by fuelbreaks to form strategic locations for control of fires.

Fuel modification practice-the broad approach to fuel management on a large acreage of wildland.