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A Property Manager's Guide to Wildfire Preparedness

Updated: Jan 22

Wild Fires

As a property manager, safety is one of your top priorities and that applies to natural disasters. Wildfire season in the United States typically lasts from summer through fall and wildfire activity has been steadily increasing over the past decade, according to a recent report released by the National Interagency Fire Center. In 2022, there were nearly 70,000 fires reported in the U.S., burning over 7.5 million acres of land.

Every state is different and every property is too. Some properties will be more at risk to damage from wildfires than others, but as a property manager, it's important to be aware of the risks and steps you can/should take to mitigate them.

Know the wildfire risks in your area

The first step to wildfire preparedness is to understand the wildfire risks in your area. For instance, what's the likelihood of a wildfire occurring in your region? How often do wildfires occur, and what is the history of wildfire outbreaks in your locality? Knowing these risks will help you develop a comprehensive wildfire preparedness plan.

raking dried grass out of lawn

Clear your surrounding

area of debris

Wildfire prevention begins with clearing debris around your apartment complex. Ensure that debris, such as dry leaves, branches, and other materials, are cleared away.

Best practice is to clear debris within 100 feet of your complex to create a defensible space but, at the very least, be sure to clear an area of at least 30 feet around your complex. In addition to improving safety around your property, this will also bring the added benefit of beautifying the property.

Build wildfire-resistant structures

If you are developing an apartment complex, consider building wildfire-resistant structures. Use materials such as brick, concrete, or stone for building homes and surrounding structures. In addition, install vents and other features to prevent embers from getting inside your apartment complex. These small precautions make a big difference in terms of preventing the spread of wildfires.

evacuation planing

Develop an evacuation plan

In case of a wildfire breakout, evacuating your residents is vital to their safety. Develop an evacuation plan and communicate it to all residents in your apartment complex. Ensure that the plan includes the steps they need to follow in case of an emergency. Train your staff members on the best evacuation routes, and hold mock drills to ensure everyone knows what to do in an emergency.

Invest in fire suppression equipment

Finally, it pays to invest in fire suppression equipment. It is crucial to have functional fire extinguishers, automatic sprinkler systems, and fire alarms in place. Make sure they are well maintained and serviced regularly. Also, ensure that there are enough fire extinguishers and other equipment, so residents can access them quickly in case of a fire.

property manager handing tenants new keys

Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late

As a property manager, your residents' safety is a top priority. Wildfire preparedness can be challenging, but it is crucial for protecting your property and residents. By understanding wildfire risks in your area, clearing debris, building wildfire-resistant structures, developing an evacuation plan, and investing in fire suppression equipment, you can protect your apartment complex from wildfire damage.

Remember to review your plans regularly to ensure they are up to date and continue to be effective in the face of new challenges. Don't wait until it is too late. Develop or review your wildfire preparedness plan today!

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