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 Firewise.org, 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.