Is excess vegetation creating a fire hazard at your business?

Paul Essek

In 2019, deadly wildfires swept across California. In the resulting investigation, experts determined that the fire originated at a power substation, where it was believed that dry vegetation was ignited. While an extreme example, it illustrates the link between vegetation and fire hazards – specifically, unwanted vegetation. 

October 6 – 12 is National Fire Prevention Week. Weeds and vegetation overgrowth could be creating a very real danger at your business. Now is a great time to do a review of your facility and implement a vegetation management program

What does a vegetation management program do, exactly? 

The term “vegetation management” isn’t just a fancy way of saying “weed control.” While traditional landscaping services are in place to address mainly aesthetics, a true vegetation management service plays an important part in several key facilities programs, including grounds maintenance and pest prevention

Excess vegetation can help pest populations thrive by providing harborage and resting places for insects, rats, mice, and pest birds. Controlling vegetation or removing it altogether limits that pest activity. 

A comprehensive vegetation management program addresses the removal or control of all types of vegetation from generic weeds growing along foundations, to vines and other vegetation along fence lines, to an overgrowth of plant life in drainage ditches. Unlike most landscaping programs, Rentokil bare ground programs are warrantied for the growing season in your area; warranties may vary for weed and brush control. 

brush fire

How can vegetation can become a fire hazard?

Excess vegetation is often overlooked as simply an eyesore. But in a few situations, it can pose a far greater risk: fire hazards.

Autumn is prime fire season in many areas. The heat of summer contributes to a lasting lack of moisture and dry autumn leaves provide plenty of additional kindling. Vegetation can act in the same manner or contribute to a fire-ready environment. 

Vegetation contact with electrical elements

Overgrown weeds, overhanging trees, and uncontrolled vegetation can come into contact with electrical equipment inadvertently. Especially when dry, this type of vegetation can easily be ignited by a spark or too much heat. 

Wildlife and vegetation

Excess vegetation at your facility can be a source of nesting material or food for birds and other wildlife. These animals can stuff vegetation into spaces, creating a risk of fire. Think of a bird building a nest near a building light fixture or a rodent placing vegetation near electrical boxes or other conduits. Wildlife and rodents can also chew on wiring, which creates the risk of an electrical short or spark. 

Lightning strikes

According to the National Fire Protection Association, in the four-year period from 2007 – 2011, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 22,600 lightning-sparked fires annually, which resulted in injuries, deaths, and in excess of $450 million in property damage per year.

Although there’s no way to control Mother Nature’s wild weather, controlling vegetation may help limit the amount of fire-fuel available, should lightning strike trees or structures on your business property. 

man standing with white safety helmet near to oil refinery

Start assembling your 2020 vegetation management plan

Although the growing season for vegetation is winding down in many areas as fall approaches, it’s never too early to begin planning for next spring. This is especially important for more temperate areas where the growing season begins as early as February or March. 

Rentokil’s vegetation management experts can come out and survey your property this fall to determine your needs and help you put together a comprehensive vegetation management strategy for 2020. Contact us today or call us at 800.488.9495 for more information. 

Paul Essek
Paul Essek

Paul Essek is the Line of Business Manager for Rentokil Steritech's Vegetation Management service. In addition, he is also the Operations Manager for Rentokil Steritech's sister company, Ambius, the global leader in creating enhanced commercial spaces through bespoke interior and exterior landscaping, scenting solutions, and holiday décor. Paul, a 28-year veteran of Rentokil North America, graduated from the University of Pittsburgh – go, Panthers!

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