Welcome to the Eastern United States Fire Performance Plant Selector Web Site
This Web site is an easy-to-use tool for selecting plants for use in fire-prone urban communities. It includes approximately 500 commonly occurring trees, shrubs, ground covers, vines, and grasses of the Eastern United States. It was developed to provide urban foresters, Firewise professionals, homeowners, and community planners with an accessible plant selection tool.
This Web site can be used by those who are familiar with Firewise principles but not plant material, or those who are familiar with plant material but not Firewise principles. Using the Eastern United States Fire Performance Plant Selector will help you make better decisions about selecting plants based on how a particular plant in a specific location might affect the movement of fire across a landscape, during a particular season, or at a particular time in the plant's life.
ALL PLANTS WILL BURN! Vegetation that serves in any way to move fire across a landscape to a structure is considered to be located in an improper location. There are external site factors that MUST be considered when locating any vegetation within the Home Ignition Zone in a fire-prone landscape. Firewise ratings are an added safety measure for developing a Firewise Landscape.
The Fire Performance Plant Selector:
- replaces the use of generalized fire-resistant or fire-retardant plant lists and flammability ratings with a more credible resource that is based on a scientifically validated methodology.1
- helps you select common trees, shrubs, ground covers, vines and grasses that can be planted to help minimize wildfire risks.
- provides insight into how existing vegetation might impact the movement of fire across a landscape.
- builds on the expertise of urban forestry and Firewise professionals to address fire safety and vegetation selection collectively.
(12004. Fire in the wildland-urban interface: Preparing a Firewise plant list for WUI residents. University of Florida Circular 1453)
The wildland-urban interface is “the line, area, or zone where structures and other human development meet or intermingle with undeveloped wildland or vegetative fuels.” This interface has long been a major area of concern for fire management agencies in the Western United States. However, Eastern States have experienced severe wildfire incidents over the past decade. Homeowners living in the wildland-urban interface often unknowingly subject themselves to the danger of wildfire. Most homeowners need to be more informed about the role vegetation plays in the transfer of heat and the mechanisms by which fire spreads. The Fire Performance Plant Selector can help you to make informed decisions related to selecting a particular plant for a particular location, growth habit, fire performance, cultural requirements or even urban and utility adaptability.
Both urban forestry and Firewise professionals are responsible for educating homeowners, developers, local governments, and policymakers about vegetation issues that are inherently related, but seldom addressed collectively. Urban forestry professionals have historically responded to the needs of homeowners by providing technical assistance for selecting plants best adapted for urban environments with little emphasis on fire precaution. Firewise professionals provide assistance related to the impact of fuels and wildfire movement across a landscape, but are often not as comfortable providing technical assistance related to the characteristics of common plant species.
Developing a plant selection database that links plant characteristics with Firewise recommendations provides a way for urban foresters and Firewise professionals to better inform homeowners and land managers about plant selection as it relates to landscape-level Firewise planning. The Fire Performance Plant Selector can help you make better decisions related to creating a more defensible space on a property. Defensible space is needed to keep fire from approaching structures and provides a safer and more accessible area in which firefighters can work. This prototype Web site can be easily expanded to include thousands of additional plants and serve as a catalyst to promote the need for increased research on the flammability of ornamental vegetation.