Fire Safety Tips

Three primary factors always affect wildland fire behavior:

1. FUEL

The type and density of the surrounding vegetation provides the fuel to keep the fire burning. Not all plants and trees burn the same way. Some almost never burn, some burn at different times of the year, and others can burn almost anytime.

2. TOPOGRAPHY

The fire is affected by the steepness of slopes, valleys, saddles, ridges, and other land features in and around the building site. Vegetation varies widely between the extremes of south facing and north facing slopes.

3. WEATHER

Wind, temperature and humidity conditions affect each fire, and are highly variable in terms of time and location. Extended periods of low moisture increase the possibility of wildfire. Low humidity and high winds increase and intensify fire behavior, and wildland fires will often create their own internal weather conditions.

We have never been able to control the weather factor. But we can modify or accommodate topographical features, and we certainly can control the existing vegetation (fuel) on and around the property.

Landscaping

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Defensible Space

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Zone 1 - Defensible Space

This is the most important 30’ space around your home. It is your yard and should be landscaped for leisure and fun, but at the same time as a potential barrier to the spread of fire.
  • A good place for grass lawn and stone or concrete patios.
  • Ornamental shrubs should be fire resistant and no taller than 18”.
  • Use fire resistant broadleaf trees for shade. Isolate trees.
  • Prune lower limbs up to 10’ above ground level.
  • Eliminate foundation conifers such as junipers.

  • Avoid using bark or wood chips for landscaping in this area.
  • Cut grass to a maximum of 2”.

Zone 2 - The Mid Zone

The next 30’-70’ space around your home. This is an area for landscape trees and shrubs, orchards and gardens, but not for wild, dense woodland vegetation.
  • Maintain space between ornamental or wild shrubs at least twice as wide as their diameter.
  • Prune lower limbs of trees up to 10’ above ground level.
  • Ideally, use only fire resistant trees and shrubs in this zone.
  • Tree crown spacing should not be less than eight feet.
  • Clean-up dead limbs and remove ladder fuels.
  • Cut or mow grass to a maximum of 8” high.

Zone 3 - The Outermost Zone

The next 70’-100’ space around your home. This is the wild forest area, but precautions are still in order.
  • Thin forest trees so that crowns are separated by at least 10’.
  • Prune lower limbs of trees up to at least 6’-10’ above ground level.
  • Prevent ladder fuel from developing.
  • Occasionally dead trees for wildlife are important, but accumulations of dead woody material on the ground, high or dense slash, or patches of dead trees should be kept to a minimum or eliminated.
  • Clean-up dead limbs and remove ladder fuels.