Is your home defendable from fire? Would your roof withstand a shower of burning embers? Does the landscaping in your yard resist fire? Could emergency vehicles get close to your residence? Do you have an escape route?

Wildfires are as much a part of the landscape in the West as blizzards and tornadoes are in the Midwest. Wildfire seasons are increasing in length and intensity. Increasing population growth continues to push into the interface between natural areas and residential and commercial areas.

Creating defensible space around residences, businesses and community assets will save lives, structures and also assist our courageous firefighters. In megafires, resources may be stretched beyond capacity.

It is not possible to be everywhere at once, despite the amazing working network of state and federal agencies, local fire districts, local businesses and volunteers who fight fires.

Our land use laws, written 50 years ago, need to be updated, as do our building codes. Defensible space should be added to the list of needs of our regional infrastructure.

Communities must continue working with their fire professionals and emergency management departments to hold trainings and practices in fire prevention and preparation. All of this requires dedication of funding in governmental budgets.

In terms of creating defensible space, there are great resources already online. Start with these websites: Oregon State Extension Service, the National Fire Protection Association and the Oregon Department of Forestry.

Talk with your family, your neighbors, your community leaders. Let's be proactive to improve outcomes of the next fire season.

KATHLEEN SULLIVAN

Astoria