Skip to Main Content

State Fire Marshal’s Office Promotes Wildfire Preparedness

Wednesday, April 09, 2014 | 11:17am

NASHVILLE, TN – Tennessee is known for its dynamic landscape and residents often choose to take advantage of its natural beauty by building homes in or near forests, rural areas, or on mountain sites. These remote locations, though beautiful, come with an increased threat of wildfire. 

“Wildfires often begin unnoticed,” Tennessee State Fire Marshal and Commerce & Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak says. “They spread quickly, igniting brush, trees, and homes. Reduce your risk by preparing now, before a wildfire starts. Meet with your family to decide what to do and where to go if wildfires threaten your area.”

The best way to protect against a wildfire is to plan ahead. Follow the U.S. Fire Administration’s steps listed below to best protect your family and property.

Plan & Practice Wildfire Safety

  • Conduct outdoor burning safely and legally, being sure to secure the appropriate permits.
  • Make sure that fire response vehicles can reach your home. Clearly mark all driveway entrances and display your name and address. Ensure adequate accessibility by large fire vehicles to your property.
  • Report hazardous conditions that could cause a wildfire.
  • Teach children about fire safety. Instill in them that fire is a tool for adults, not a toy. Keep matches and lighters out of their reach.
  • Post fire emergency telephone numbers.
  • Plan several escape routes away from your home – by car and by foot.
  • Talk to your neighbors about wildfire safety. Consider how you could help neighbors – such as elderly or disabled persons – who have special needs. Make plans to take care of children who might be on their own if parents can't get home.

Protect Your Home

  • Create a 30-to-100-foot safety zone around your home.
  • Rake and remove leaves, dead limbs, twigs and rubbish from around and under structures in this zone and clear all flammable vegetation.
  • Prune tree branches and shrubs within 15 feet of a stovepipe or chimney outlet.
  • Ask the power company to clear branches from power lines.
  • Regularly clean roofs and gutters, and inspect chimneys.
  • Remove vines from the walls of the home.
  • Mow grass regularly.
  • Store gasoline, oily rags and other flammable materials in approved safety cans. Place cans in a safe location away from the base of buildings.
  • Stack firewood at least 100 feet away and uphill from your home. Clear combustible material within 20 feet. Use only wood-burning devices evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory.
  • Identify and maintain an adequate outside water source such as a small pond, cistern, well, swimming pool or hydrant.

Escape Safely

  • If advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
  • Wear protective clothing: sturdy shoes, cotton or woolen clothing, long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, gloves and a handkerchief to protect your face.
  • Lock your home when you go.
  • Tell someone when you leave and where you are going.
  • Choose a route away from fire hazards. Watch for changes in the speed and direction of fire and smoke.

For more information on wildfire preparedness and/or the proper procedures for outdoor burning in your area, visit

The State Fire Marshal’s Office is a division of the Department of Commerce and Insurance, which works to protect consumers while ensuring fair competition for industries and professionals who do business in Tennessee. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube



Media Advisories | Commerce & Insurance | Press Releases