Are you prepared for wildfire season? As the warm weather increases, so does the potential for wildfires. Here are some tips for creating defensible space and setting up an evacuation plan.

Create Defensible Space

Creating defensible space is essential to improving your home’s chance of surviving a wildfire. It’s the buffer you create between your home and the grass, trees, shrubs, or any flammable material that surrounds it. This space is needed to slow or stop the spread of wildfire and it protects your home from catching fire—either from direct flame contact or radiant heat. Defensible space is also important for the protection of the firefighters defending your home.

Below are some examples of defensible space and we have a made available several PDFs that you can download and print for reference.

The most important thing is to ACT NOW!

Take advantage of the cooler weather and get out there and do what you can to create defensible space and create a plan of evacuation. If you can’t physically do the work needed to create defensible space ask a neighbor if they would be willing to help you or contact a landscape company. If you would like to have a property evaluation done for your home contact your local fire department. A list of Fire Departments can be found here .

Zone 1

Zone 1 extends 30 feet* out from buildings, structures, decks, etc.

  • Remove all dead plants, grass and weeds (vegetation).
  • Remove dead or dry leaves and pine needles from your yard, roof and rain gutters.
  • Trim trees regularly to keep branches a minimum of 10 feet from other trees.
  • Remove branches that hang over your roof and keep dead branches 10 feet away from your chimney.
  • Relocate wood piles into Zone 2.
  • Remove or prune flammable plants and shrubs near windows.
  • Remove vegetation and items that could catch fire from around and under decks.
  • Create a separation between trees, shrubs and items that could catch fire, such as patio furniture, wood piles, swing sets, etc.

Zone 2

Zone 2 extends 100 feet out from buildings, structures, decks, etc.

  • Cut or mow annual grass down to a maximum height of 4 inches.
  • Create horizontal spacing between shrubs and trees. (See diagram)
  • Create vertical spacing between grass, shrubs and trees. (See diagram)
  • Remove fallen leaves, needles, twigs, bark, cones, and small branches. However, they may be permitted to a depth of 3 inches.

Plant and Tree Spacing

The spacing between grass, shrubs, and trees is crucial to reduce the spread of wildfires. The spacing needed is determined by the type and size of brush and trees, as well as the slope of the land. For example, a property on a steep slope with larger vegetation requires greater spacing between trees and shrubs than a level property that has small, sparse vegetation.

Vertical Spacing

Remove all tree branches at least 6 feet from the ground.

Allow extra vertical space between shrubs and trees. Lack of vertical space can allow a fire to move from the ground to the brush to the tree tops like a ladder.

To determine the proper vertical spacing between shrubs and the lowest branches of trees, use the formula below.

Example: A five foot shrub is growing near a tree. 3×5 = 15 feet of clearance needed between the top of the shrub and the lowest tree branch.

Horizontal Spacing

Horizontal spacing depends on the slope of the land and the height of the shrubs or trees. Check the chart below to determine spacing distance.

Fire-Resistant Landscaping

Fire-resistant landscaping isn’t necessarily the same thing as a well-maintained yard. This type of landscaping uses fire-resistant plants that are strategically planted to resist the spread of fire to your home.

The good news is that you don’t need to spend a lot of money to make your landscape fire-resistant. And fire-resistant landscaping can increase your property value and conserve water while beautifying your home.

Have an Evacuation Plan

Before wildfire strikes, it is important to have a plan. Prepare yourself and your home for the possibility of having to evacuate. Use the tips and checklist below to get started.

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