Las Sendas

FIREWISE USA®

It takes all of us to do our part to reduce the risk of devastating wildfires from threatening our homes and our community. A home and a community that has clear defensible space are more likely to survive a wildfire, plus it keeps our firefighters on the ground safe when they are working to save your property.
 
Quick links:

Check out the steps you can take below to fireproof your home and protect our community.

HELP LAS SENDAS BECOME FIREWISE

 
In order for Las Sendas Community to be recognized as a Firewise USA® community, the following must happen each year:
 
  1. Written Wildfire Risk Assessment. The Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management will assess the community and provide a written assessment that identifies areas of successful wildfire risk reduction and areas where improvements could be made. View the 2021 wildfire risk assessment report here.
  2. Education. Las Sendas will help educate residents on steps to protect your homes and reduce the risk of fire damage in Las Sendas. Las Sendas will provide residents with easily accessible information (like on this page!), and host events for residents to meet with the Arizona Fire Prevention and Mitigation Officer.
  3. Take Action. The Association and residents need to address items in the action plan. Hours invested will be recorded by the Association. Las Sendas currently needs an equivalent of 3430 hours invested each year. You can find a list of qualifying items in the sections below. Click here to log your 2021 hours.
  4. Apply. Once Las Sendas has logged 3430 hours of volunteer time, the Association will apply for this year's Firewise USA® Designation. 

TIPS FOR PROTECTING YOUR PROPERTY

 
Wildland fires are fed by dried grasses and flash fuels. Brushfire season typically starts in mid-April and continues through September. Wildfire readiness is key: start taking steps today to protect your property and family!
 
You can take the following steps to reduce the opportunity for a fire to cause home ignition:
  • Keep BBQ Grills at least 10 ft away from your home when in use. 
  • Test smoke alarm batteries every month. Working smoke alarms double your chance of exiting your home alive in the event of a fire.
  • Set a calendar reminder to regularly monitor the defensible space around your home for maximum fire prevention.
  • Keep gutters, eves, and roofs clear of leaves and other debris.
  • Make sure the chimneys of your home and any other wood-burning sources have an approved spark arrestor.
  • Ensure attic, eave, and foundation vents have 1/8-inch wire mesh or vent types designed to prevent ember entry.
  • Replace plastic skylights with types constructed of double-pane glass. One of the panes should be tempered glass.
  • If you store your garbage cans outside, ensure they are covered with well-fitting lids. Move newspaper recycling bins indoors.
  • Set a calendar reminder to regularly monitor the defensible space around your home for maximum fire prevention.
  • Keep gutters, eves, and roofs clear of leaves and other debris.
  • Make sure the chimneys of your home and any other wood-burning sources have an approved spark arrestor.
  • Ensure attic, eave, and foundation vents have 1/8-inch wire mesh or vent types designed to prevent ember entry.
  • Replace plastic skylights with types constructed of double-pane glass. One of the panes should be tempered glass.
  • If you store your garbage cans outside, ensure they are covered with well-fitting lids. Move newspaper recycling bins indoors.
  • Replace or repair any loose or missing shingles or roof tiles to prevent ember penetration.
  • Remove flash fuels such as dead grass.
  • Trim trees within the 30-ft defensible space so the canopy is about 5' off the ground; remove any dead branches.
  • Trim grass and foliage around trees.
  • Do not stack wood or other flammable materials within the 30-ft defensible space. Place combustible patio furniture, such as lounges, tables, and hammocks, inside the house or garage if a wildfire is threatening.
  • Keep a rolled-up garden hose with a nozzle attached to an outside hose valve connection.
  • Repair or replace damaged or loose window screens and any broken windows Screen or box-in areas below patios and decks with wire mesh to prevent debris and combustible materials from accumulating.
 
If a wildfire is threatening the area, consider the following measures to protect your home:
  • Remove combustible materials from your porch or deck, including newspapers, wicker baskets, doormats, pine cones, and dried flower arrangements, and place BBQ propane tanks indoors.
  • Cover vent openings with pre-cut plywood or aluminum foil folded several layers thick and stapled.
  • Close skylights.
 
Reminders for when you're away from home:
  • No smoking allowed in unmaintained common areas.
  • Deposit all cigarette butts in proper containers. Never throw a cigarette butt onto the ground.
  • When camping, follow local agency rules for campfires. Do not build a fire without making sure open fires are allowed, and always follow fire safety information.
  • Add a spark arrester to off-road vehicles and other small internal combustion engines such as generators.
 
Educate your children:
  • Children are used to fire drills at school but often don't go through exercises at home. Visit the Arizona Burn Foundation for information and videos for tools to help you talk to your kids about fire safety.
 
For more information, visit the National Fire Protection Association's website.

DEFENSIBLE SPACE — KNOW THE ZONES

 
Homeowners and contractors should create a well-maintained, live vegetation zone to prevent damage to structures in case of wildland fires. This "defensible space" acts as a fire break, protecting your home, and should contain only small brush and ground cover to prevent a continuous path of flammable materials leading to inhabited structures.
 
Specific preventative actions recommended:
  1. Maintain a 15-foot zone around your home by removing perennial grasses, thin overgrown bushes, dead branches, and branches touching the ground.
  2. Remove dead vegetation that is down on the ground from an additional 15-foot zone for maximum protection (30 feet total).
 
DEFENSIBLE SPACE ACTION 1 — TRIM LIVE VEGETATION ACTION 2 — REMOVE DEAD + DOWN VEGETATION
Homes 15 feet 15 feet
Walls 5 feet 15 feet
Roads 10 feet 20 feet
Construction Building envelope 30 feet outside the building envelope
 
Please Note: The vegetation maintenance areas may be increased by the Fire Marshal up to 100-feet, based upon the terrain, to provide adequate defensible space. This would typically occur in hillside areas where fires can quickly spread upwards and outwards and where the deployment of fire trucks and equipment might be difficult.

REMOVE INVASIVE PLANTS

 
As development pushes into the Sonoran Desert, an unintended consequence has been the introduction and spread of invasive plants into natural areas. The ecological damage caused by this unwanted vegetation negatively impacts the desert landscape by:
  • Replacing native plants
  • Damaging the ecosystem by displacing native plants
  • Eliminating preferred plants for forage
  • Creating fuel for a fire and promoting the spread of fires
  • Altering water flow patterns
 
All these elements can permanently alter the landscape of our beautiful desert uplands landscape. Invasive plants upset the surrounding area's sensitive and natural ecological balance, are a fire hazard, and can disrupt the habitat for desert wildlife.
 
What is an invasive plant? An invasive plant is generally not native to the Sonoran Desert. Click here to see common threats in Las Sendas.
 
How can I help?
  • Learn to identify problem plants
  • Learn about proper eradication methods
  • Remove invasive plants from private property
  • Work with your landscaper or gardener so native plants take priority in your yard
  • Report infestations in common areas to the Association 
  • Join a recognized volunteer weed removal group, get trained, and participate
  • Ask the nursery where you buy landscape materials to stop carrying these plants

PREPARE FOR A POTENTIAL EVACUATION

 
Should the community be threatened by a wildfire, residents may be advised to evacuate by law enforcement or fire officials. The purpose of evacuation is to protect people from life-threatening situations. Residents that choose to shelter in place and then change their minds and wish to evacuate later have often hindered firefighting efforts.
 
Before the fire:
  • Collect valuables, important documents, medications, and other personal items in one place and be ready to evacuate if necessary.
  • What you can fit into your vehicle is what you can take (make priorities by what is replaceable and what is not).
  • Maintain a mobile survival kit. This includes a first aid kit, emergency tools, battery-powered radio and flashlight, extra batteries, car keys, credit cards, water, and non-perishable food. Also consider blankets and sleeping bags.
  • Review the Ember Awareness Checklist to ensure you have addressed as many of the recommendations as possible.
  • Make sure your children’s and pet’s needs are met. Have means of transporting pets readily available.
  • Clearly post your name and address so it can be seen from the street.
  • Establish and practice a family evacuation plan and meeting location. Know who you will notify about the evacuation. Know where you will get fire updates.
  • Be prepared to be directed by law enforcement or traffic control personnel; follow their directions.
  • Drive travel routes in advance so that you will be prepared.
  • Have checklist and map ready.

KNOW WHAT TO DO IF A BRUSHFIRE BREAKS OUT IN OR NEAR THE COMMUNITY

 
Wildland fires burn rapidly, and winds often make them unpredictable. So, be very cautious when attempting to control a brush fire with a garden hose. Call the fire department for assistance every time — call 911.
 
Report brush fires immediately by calling 911. Never assume someone else will make the call.
 
If an evacuation has been ordered or advised:
  1. Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape. Shut doors and roll up windows. Leave keys in the ignition. Close garage doors/windows. Disconnect automatic garage openers.
  2. Confine or secure pets to one room or area. Prepare them to be transported.
  3. Follow instructions of emergency personnel. If advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
  4. Wear protective clothing, sturdy shoes, cotton or wool clothing, long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, gloves, and handkerchiefs to protect your face.
  5. Move all flammable furniture (including outdoor furniture) to the center of the home or storage.
  6. Leave your electricity on and leave some lights on. Turn on all exterior lights.
  7. Close shutters, blinds, and heavy drapes. Remove lightweight window dressings.
  8. Close fireplace dampers and fireplace screens.
  9. Shut all doors and windows, both exterior and interior.
  10. Place a note attached to the front door stating the names of all evacuees, time and date of evacuation, destination, and contact information.
  11. Lock your home. Tell someone when you left and where you're going. Choose a route away from the fire hazard. Watch for changes in the fire's speed and direction.

ENSURE YOUR CONTRACTORS TAKE FIRE SAFETY PRECAUTIONS

 
Be vigilant! Keep construction sites safe and free of combustible materials.
  • Limit welding and cutting to cleared areas.
  • Remove all flammable products and flash fuels.
  • Maintain the building envelope as a "clear zone." With permission from the City Planning Department, thin an additional 30-feet to provide adequate defensible space.
  • Do not stack wood or other flammable construction materials in your defensible space.

WHAT WORK WILL BE DONE IN COMMON AREAS?

 
One of the most common concerns residents have is the amount of dead and overgrown vegetation in the common areas that weave throughout Las Sendas. Until 2016, these natural areas were designated as “natural, unmaintained” and largely untouched, leaving a lot of work to do. A few years ago, the Association began contracting with landscape companies to remove the excess vegetation to mitigate the risk of a fire spreading throughout the community. The Board of Directors approved roughly $233K of fire fuel mitigation efforts in 24 enclaves between 2016 and 2018. It was the first time any significant removal of vegetation in these common areas was performed since the community was developed roughly 20 years ago.
 
In 2019, the Landscape Committee sought to continue the project in the remaining areas that had not been addressed. The Committee consulted with the Mesa Fire Department and the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management (DFFM) to better understand the recommended scope of work. During these conversations, the Committee learned that the DFFM has a partnership with the Arizona Department of Corrections, and trained fire crews were available to perform fuel reduction work. In addition to performing this work in Arizona forests, these crews regularly perform work in homeowners associations around the valley similar to Las Sendas. The Landscape Committee developed a plan for fire mitigation to be performed in phases over five years, assuming the Association could utilize the DFFM fire crews.
 
As with most things, COVID-19 affected the 2020 and 2021 fire mitigation projects. The highly trained crews offered by the DFFM were removed from all projects last March and remain unavailable for the foreseeable future. As a result, we turned to our new landscape provider, ProQual, to perform the work in the same seven enclaves slated for 2020. Unfortunately, this change resulted in a significant reduction in the scope and an increase in project costs. These changes will require the Landscape Committee to review and revise the fire mitigation plan before we schedule work in 2022.
 
One of the six priorities that the Board set for 2021 was fire mitigation in the common areas and revising the community’s fire mitigation plan. To support this decision, the Board increased the 2021 budget for fire risk mitigation to $112,000, up from $38,000 in 2020. The following enclaves are scheduled for 2021:
  • Founders Ranch
  • Grayfox
  • Mountain Village
  • Pinnacle Hills
  • Silverhawk
  • Sonoran Hills
  • Terraces
  • Windsong
 
Other enclaves will be scheduled for fire mitigation in 2022 and beyond. The Board continues to prioritize fire mitigation and is setting aside funds in the operating budget to ensure work continues. 
 
As a general rule, the scope of work includes the following (This isn’t a science. It’s more of an art by trained professionals):
  • Clearing away vegetation within 5 feet of walls, with the exception of healthy trees and cacti with diameters over 4 inches. 
  • Trimming trees so that branches do not hang lower than about five feet from the ground.
  • Removing any “dead and down” material, meaning large broken branches, dead trees and shrubs, and fallen trees or branches.
  • Break up large, dense areas of shrubs by removing some shrubs. 
  • Removal of invasive plant species.
 
While the Association will follow the Guidelines provided by the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management to reduce the amount of fuel in the common areas, the work will not guarantee fires will not start or spread within the community. Given our proximity to the Tonto National forest and an increased presence of invasive grasses in the desert, homeowners should also take action to protect their private property and ensure they have insurance coverage.