Fire Readiness

Ways to stay alert and ready in an Emergency:

Homeowner Safety Checklist

  • Clean roofs and gutters of dead leaves, debris and pine needles that could catch embers.
  • Replace or repair any loose or missing shingles or roof tiles to prevent ember penetration.
  • Enclose under-eave and soffit vents or screens with metal mesh to prevent ember entry.
  • Cover exterior attic vents with metal wire mesh no larger than 1/8 inch to prevent sparks from entering the home.
  • 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.
  • Move any flammable material away from wall exteriors – mulch, flammable plants, leaves and needles, redwood piles – anything that can burn.
  • Remove anything stored underneath decks or porches.

^Have a Firewise Home.pdf

Zones
The primary goal for Firewise landscaping is fuel reduction — limiting the amount of flammable vegetation and materials surrounding the home and increasing the moisture content of remaining vegetation. The home itself and everything around it up to 100 – 200 feet is known as the ‘home ignition zone.’ In areas across the country where the risk of wildfire is high, the home ignition zone extends up to 200 feet beyond the actual home structure. Within this 200 foot area, there are three zones.

Zone 1 encircles the structure and all its attachments (wooden decks, fences, and boardwalks) for at least 30 feet on all sides. Note: the 30-foot number comes from the very minimum distance, on flat ground, that a wood wall can be separated from the radiant heat of large flames without igniting. In this area:

  • Plants should be carefully spaced, low-growing and free of resins, oils and waxes that burn easily.
  • Mow the lawn regularly. Prune trees up six to ten feet from the ground.
  • Space conifer trees 30 feet between crowns. Trim back trees that overhang the house.
  • Create a ‘fire-free’ area within five feet of the home, using non-flammable landscaping materials and/or high-moisture-content annuals and perennials.
  • Remove dead vegetation from under deck and within 10 feet of house.
  • Consider fire-resistant material for patio furniture, swing sets, etc.
  • Remove firewood stacks and propane tanks; they should not be located in this zone.
  • Water plants, trees and mulch regularly.
  • Consider xeriscaping if you are affected by water-use restrictions.

Zone 2 is 30 to 100 feet from the home, and plants in this zone should be low-growing, well irrigated and less flammable. In this area:

  • Leave 30 feet between clusters of two to three trees, or 20 feet between individual trees.
  • Encourage a mixture of deciduous and coniferous trees.
  • Create ‘fuel breaks’, like driveways, gravel walkways and lawns.
  • Prune trees up six to ten feet from the ground.

Zone 3 is 100 to 200 feet from the home and this area should be thinned, although less space is required than in Zone 2. Note: Because of other factors such as topography, the recommended distances to mitigate for radiant heat exposure actually extend between 100 to 200 feet from the home – on a site-specific basis. In this area:

  • Remove smaller conifers that are growing between taller trees. Remove heavy accumulation of woody debris.
  • Reduce the density of tall trees so canopies are not touching.

Fire-wise tips for Homeowners:

  1. Start with the little things first
    1. Non flammable roof
    2. Clean gutters
    3. Clean debris and leaves
  2. Remove fuel sources close to the house
    1. 5-foot non flammable zone around the house
    2. No organics such as mulch, shrubs or bushes that could easily ignite
    3. If there are branches touching the house, trim them back 10 feet
  3. Do large projects to remove potential fuel
    1. Create space between trees, at least 30 feet between crowns
    2. Remove heavy accumulations or brush or shrubs 100-200 feet away from an structure
    3. Create fuel breaks such as rock patios or walkways
    4. Low water requirement (xeriscape) landscaping
    5. Replace windows with higher paned or tempered alternatives and screen all vents or openings