Defensible Space

Defensible space is an area around a structure where fuels and vegetation are treated, cleared or reduced to slow the spread of wildfire towards the structure. It also reduces the chance of a structure fire moving from the building to the surrounding forest. Defensible space provides room for firefighters to do their jobs. Your house is more likely to withstand a wildfire if grasses, brush, trees and other common forest fuels are managed to reduce a fire’s intensity.

Quick Facts on Defensible Space:

  • Wildfire will find the weakest links in the defense measures you have taken on your property.
  • The primary determinants of a home’s ability to survive wildfire are its roofing material and the quality of the “defensible space” surrounding it.
  • Even small steps to protect your home and property will make them more able to withstand fire.
  • Consider these measures for all areas of your property, not just the immediate vicinity of the house.
  • Quite often during a wildfire threat, fire agencies will pre-deem a home a “casualty” because of bad defensible space. This decision is made before the fire gets there!! This means the agency will use resources on a home with a better chance of survival.
  • Check with your fire agency for local requirements

From, here is your defensible space and Firewise annual safety checklist:

  • Trees and shrubs are properly thinned and pruned within the defensible space. Slash from the thinning is disposed of.
  • Roof and gutters are clear of leaves, needles, and other debris.
  • Branches overhanging the roof and chimney are removed.
  • Chimney screens are in place and in good condition.
  • Grass and weeds are mowed to a low height.
  • An outdoor water supply is available, complete with a hose and nozzle that can reach all parts of the house.
  • Fire extinguishers are checked and in working condition.
  • The driveway is wide enough. The clearance of trees and branches is adequate for fire and emergency equipment. (Check with your local fire department.)
  • Road signs and your name and house number are posted and easily visible.
  • There is an easily accessible tool storage area with rakes, hoes, axes and shovels for use in case of fire.
  • You have practiced family fire drills and your fire evacuation plan.
  • Your escape routes, meeting points and other details are known and understood by all family members.
  • Attic, roof, eaves and foundation vents are screened and in good condition. Stilt foundations and decks are enclosed, screened or walled up.
  • Trash and debris accumulations are removed from the defensible space.