It’s Summer, which means wildfire season is here once again. With the California Camp Fire, Woolsey fire, and others making headlines in the United States over the last several years, people are paying more attention to the dangers of wildfires in their communities.
Whether you live in an area where wildfires are a possibility, or you just want to increase the defensibility of your property from wildfires, it’s important to know how to protect your home and others from wildfire by creating a pair of maintained perimeters around your property.
This wildfire protection zone around your home as known as defensible space, and is defined by Colorado State Forest Service as,
“the area around a home or other structure that has been modified to reduce fire hazard. In this area, natural and manmade fuels are treated, cleared or reduced to slow the spread of wildfire. Creating defensible space also works in the reverse, and reduces the chance of a structure fire spreading to neighboring homes or the surrounding forest. Defensible space gives your home a fighting chance against an approaching wildfire.”
In some states, creating a defensible space is the law, but regardless of where you live, it’s always the property owner’s responsibility.
Your home’s defensible space is primarily made up of two zones, each with their own maintenance requirements. Follow these recommendations for each zone to create a proper defensible space around your home property.
Zone 1 is a 30 ft perimeter from structures, buildings, decks, etc… on your property.
- Cut down and remove all dead trees, bushes, and other vegetation around your home.
- Sweep, rake, and clear away leaves, pine needles, twigs, bark, and other vegetative droppings.
- Keep a low trim on bushes and shrubs near windows and doors.
- Keep trees trimmed, removing branches lower than 6 ft from the ground on most trees and trimming branches that hang over the roof or patio cover of your property.
- Consult an arborist if you’re unsure about the health of your trees or how to maintain them
- Clear rain gutters of leaves, pine needles, cones, and any other debris
- Move flammable materials (i.e. propane tanks, wood piles, etc…) away from any structure.
- Move wood piles away from structures and into Zone 2.
- Creating fuel breaks (driveways, gravel walkways, lawns) can be helpful to reducing fire spread
Zone 2 extends 100 ft out from structures, buildings, decks, etc… on your property.
Things you can do
- Dispose of tree and bush trimmings
- Maintain grass at a length of 4 inches or shorter
- Mowing in the morning, and not on windy days, is a good idea
- If powerlines are near your home, keep them clear of tall growing bushes and trees
- Create adequate vertical and horizontal spacing between trees and shrubs
- Spacing between trees and shrubs is determined by the size of the vegetation and the slope of the land. Read more about safe planting and clearing distances here.
- Fallen leaves, twigs, cones, pods, bark, and branches are permitted at a depth of 3 inches, but maintenance of these should be considered for fuel reduction.
Note that these perimeter measurements may differ depending on the state in which you live. Always check with your local fire department to determine the regulations in your area!
Creating a safe, defensible space around your home is every homeowner’s responsibility. The good news is that most of these precautions don’t require much money to maintain – and you can even go a step further and landscape your home with fire-resistant landscaping. Creating fuel breaks like pathways and fire-resistant plants is a low cost, stylish way to improve the defensibility of your home and property.
Don’t forget that if you’re a member of the Benchmark Maintenance program, and scheduling annual inspections, our experts will identify possible issues and improvements, including defensible space suggestions and advice.
To Learn more contact us.