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Firebreak Types, Pros, and Cons

Updated on September 20, 2012

A firebreak does what the name implies, which is “breaking” or stopping the spread of a fire. Firebreaks are usually found in high potential areas of wildfires. There are many different types of firebreaks, all with unique purposes. Here are the most common and the pros and cons of constructing a firebreak.

Types

Natural Firebreaks - Generally the most functional firebreaks and include lakes and other bodies of water.

Paved Roads - The most simplistic of the firebreaks, but are not as effective with larger fires.

Bare Soil Firebreaks - Created by burying vegetation to create a barren strip of land where fire will not thrive.

Vegetated Firebreaks - Works by lessening the buildup of waste. This is generally the most extensive way to make a firebreak.

Pros

- Some vegetation is more flammable than other vegetation. If a firebreak does not block one area from another area that could have very flammable vegetation, an out-of-control fire could result.

- Some dry areas experience frequent fires, which over time, deplete soil of necessary nutrients.

- Firebreaks can help protect important buildings or structures.

Cons

Sometimes, small fires can be beneficial to areas as long as they are well contained.

- One of the main benefits of small, monitored fires is reduction of less important shrubs and debris. With the decline of these, larger trees can grow to be healthier. Also, the important trees do not need to fight for rapidly depleting nutrients or lessening water.

- Invasive plants and weeds, like Mossman River Grass and Snakeweed, can be eradicated or controlled with small fires.

- Fires help clear thick brush, which can affect the surrounding animal and plant populations.

- Well-contained fire can quarantine a disease or parasite that is in danger of plaguing an environment.

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    • Kate Mc Bride profile image

      Kate McBride 4 years ago from Donegal Ireland

      I would never have thought that small fires could have benefits for the environment and you outline them well in this hub.It is good to learn something new. Thanks!

    • kemaier profile image
      Author

      kemaier 4 years ago from Michigan

      Thank YOU for reading!

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