A firebreak (also called a fireroad, fire line or fuel break) is a gap in vegetation or other combustible material that acts as a barrier to slow or stop the progress of a wildfire. A firebreak may occur naturally where there is a lack of vegetation or "fuel", such as a river, lake or canyon. Firebreaks may also be man-made, and many of these also serve as roads, such as a logging road, jeep trail, secondary road, or a highway.
In the construction of a firebreak, the primary goal is to remove deadwood and undergrowth coppice. Various methods may be used to accomplish this initially and to maintain this condition. Ideally, the firebreak will be constructed and maintained according to the established practices of sustainable forestry and fire protection engineering. The general goals are to maximize the effectiveness of the firebreak at slowing the spread of wildfire, and by using firebreaks of sufficient size and density to hopefully reduce the ultimate size of wildfires. Additional goals are to maintain the ecology of the forest and to reduce the impact of wildfires on air pollution and the global climate, and to balance the costs and benefits of the various projects.
These goals can be achieved through the use of appropriate operating practices, many of which can be potentially mutually beneficial to all. In many cases, it may be useful for firebreak upkeep to be used in concert with the harvesting of forestry products such as lumber and biomass fuel, since the objectives are fundamentally related, in that the basic goals are to remove material from the forest. Furthermore, if done properly, the value of these products can significantly offset the cost of maintaining the firebreak. In addition, these commercial industries and small businesses are helped by a reduction in the property damages caused by wildfires, and reduced risk of investment. The biomass material that is not suitable for dimensioned lumber, is suitable to make woodchips for the paper industry, and the energy industry.
Larger trees are sometimes left in place within some types of firebreaks, to shade the forest floor and reduce the rate of fuel accumulation, and to enhance the landscaping in recreational and inhabited locations.
Firebreaks, along with controlled burns, are also the source of the everyday phrase 'fight fire with fire'. See - Fight fire with fire
RESIDENTS' SUSPICIONS MAY KILL PLAN FOR FIREBREAK MANNS HARBOR AT RISK, BUT PROPERTY OWNERS ARE WARY OF PROJECT.(LOCAL)
Aug 25, 2002; Byline: DARREN FREEMAN THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT\ MANNS HARBOR -- The powerful wildfire had blazed through the marshlands and was...