Wildfire season is upon us again. Land, homes, and businesses have been destroyed by wildfires in Southern California. We are once again reminded that there are significant things we can do to safeguard our lands from such devastation. One of the things we can do is build fire protection ponds on our properties. We’ve written previously about fire retention ponds and when you might need to build one, but for those of you interested in preventing fire from reaching your property, we wanted to explain how to build one for protection.
There’s no difference between a fire retention pond and a fire protection pond. Except, of course, in how you intend to use it. Though the terms are interchangeable, these ponds can be used to prevent fires from reaching your property as well as providing a water source for fire departments that may not have one. If you are worried about fire reaching your property, water is one of the only deterring factors. In fact, it is because of well-watered vineyards that the fires in Northern California were unable to spread.
If you live in a dry or arid climate that is prone to wildfires, fire protection ponds can keep you and your property safe from harm.
How to Build Fire Protection Ponds
Before we get started, it’s worth mentioning that though fire protection ponds can protect your property in the event of a fire, you may still need to evacuate the area if requested by a public official. Make sure you and your family are aware of fire safety practices and that you can leave your home in the event of an emergency. Once your family is cared for, here’s how you can care for your property too.
Choose Your Location Wisely
Depending on where you live, it may be beneficial to build your fire protection ponds in such a way that they can protect an entire subdivision or community. A lot of neighborhoods choose to do this in an aesthetically pleasing way by creating a pond that doubles as a picturesque lake residents can walk around or a peaceful water feature guests can enjoy at the entrance.
Start by deciding what areas you want to protect, then aim to place your pond around that. Ideally, you’ll want to place your pond 100 to 250 feet above the area you plan on protecting. This allows it to function without the use of electricity. If this is not possible, try to find an area that naturally slopes downward, like a basin, if possible.
Talk With Your Fire Department
One of the most detrimental mistakes made by those living in Mendocino during the Northern California fires was that they didn’t have the correct fittings on hand. They had invested in fire protection ponds or cisterns. They had water stored up in case of an emergency. But the fire departments weren’t able to access the water because hoses weren’t able to connect with the pipe valves used by each property. This is where talking to your fire department can make all the difference. Ask them how they need to access fire protection ponds in the event of an emergency. They’ll be able to outline exactly what you need to have to put out a fire on your property.
Construct a Pond
Once you have these considerations in place, you can go about the process of constructing and building your pond. You’ll need to obtain any necessary permits from the environmental protection division in your state, and you may want to talk with your local Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) as well.
To keep your pond full, you’ll want to consider whether you plan to use surface runoff, groundwater, streams, springs, or wells as your primary water source. You’ll also need to determine the makeup of the material you plan on using to line your pond walls. We recommend a clay content of at least 20%. From there you should line your pond walls with geomembrane material that will keep water from seeping into the soil.
The end result is an adequate water source to replace evaporated water and a proper pond liner to prevent seepage. You’ll have a body of water that can stop fires from entering your land. Even better, if you have the proper fittings on hand, your fire department will be able to use that water to suppress any fires that do come your way.
BTL Liners makes RPE pond liners that are puncture resistant and guaranteed. Use our pond calculator to decide how much material you will need for your project. Or contact us for more information. Our team is happy to discuss your project with you.