Prepare for Wildfire
Own a home in a wildfire-prone state like California? If so, you’ve likely heard the term “defensible space” before, especially if you live in the wildland-urban interface where nature meets city. If not, getting familiar with the concept should be at the top of your to-do list—and you’ve come to the right place for this.
Here at Ember Defense, we’re experts in the science of helping homeowners implement the correct measures for their unique houses so they have the best chance of emerging from a wildfire in one piece. Our top priority is to provide information and advice plus practical tools and strategies to protect your home, and defensible space is a key part of this.
What is Defensible Space?
The concept of defensible space is a simple one, though its implementation takes many forms. It’s all about being strategic about how you design or manage the land that surrounds your home. There are three key reasons creating defensible space is important:
To Protect Your Home
In the event of a wildfire in your area, you want to do everything you can to prevent the flames from reaching your home and damaging or even destroying it. That’s where defensible space comes in. Think of it like a buffer or barrier from your house all the way to your property line that can help dangerous flames in the surrounding trees, brush, or shrubbery from reaching your home.
To Assist Firefighters.
If a wildfire does ignite near your home, having adequate defensible space around it can help the firefighting efforts. This space gives firefighters a safe area from which they can do their important work: slowing the spread of a wildfire and protecting your home.
Slow Wildfire Spread
That’s why defensible space is the responsibility of everyone who lives in a wildfire-prone area. Of course, you want to protect your own home. But in doing so, you can also help slow the advancement of the fire in other areas, which can help protect your neighbors and your community.
How can you start creating defensible space around your home?
There’s no one-size-fits all homeowner’s checklist for this process, because every home and property is a bit different. Fortunately, there are lots of resources out there that list a wide variety of precautions you can take. From there, you should choose and implement each one that applies to where you live. If you want to be thorough and ensure you’re doing everything you can to defend your home from a wildfire, contact us at Ember Defense at (415) 573-2400 today. We’ll schedule a visit to your property so our experts can evaluate your current defensible space and give recommendations on how to mitigate your wildfire risk.
Some top resources for more information about defensible space include the informative website of Cal fire (also known as the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection) which can be found at readyforwildfire.org, the website for Fire Safe Marin, and your local fire department. We’ve also got a wealth of helpful tips to share here, so read on to gain a basic understanding of fire safety and preparedness when it comes to the area around your property.
Know Your Defensible Space Zones
Readyforwildfire.org breaks down defensible space into three key zones, all of which require different care and techniques to be as fire-resistant as possible. Collectively, they’re known as the home ignition zone. Broken down, they are:
The Immediate Zone
Which includes the home itself plus the area the closest to the home—within five feet. This is the defensible space zone that should get the most fire-protection attention, because it’s the most vulnerable.
The Intermediate Zone
Which is the zone that begins where the immediate zone ends and extends out thirty feet from there. This area typically consists of landscaping.
The Extended Zone
Which begins where the intermediate zone ends and extends out up to 200 feet. Of course, not all property owners have property lines that go out this far, but it’s important for those that do to include all of this area in their defensible space too.
Start with the house itself
As mentioned above, your house is included in the immediate zone. Start there. Clean out your gutters and set a reminder for yourself to do so regularly to prevent buildup of combustible materials like pine needles. Keep any wood piles and propane tanks away from the home in a fire-resistant enclosure. Make sure all of your windows, window screens, and roof tiles or shingles are intact, and replace any of the above if needed to prevent the entry of embers. To that end, you should also get the vents on your home replaced with the ember-resistant variety. After all, as many as nine out of ten homes destroyed by wildfires ignited because of embers blown by the wind.
Use Landscaping That's Fire-Resistant
In the intermediate and extended zones, it’s crucial to make sure that any landscaping materials you use are fire-resistant. Any types of flammable vegetation should be avoided; refer to the tips for choosing fire-resistant plants on the readyforwildfire.org website. You should make sure your trees and shrubs are properly spaced, too, to prevent them all from igniting if one does. Refer to the Firewise guidelines on spacing for this. Finally, you should also use inorganic mulch like gravel or brick chips (as opposed to organic mulch like bark or shredded rubber), since it’s less likely to burn.
Keep Up with Yard Maintenance
Yard maintenance is all about fuel reduction—that is, making it so that a wildfire has less kindling if it should pass through your property, so it has a harder time spreading. You should stick to a frequent schedule for clearing out any dead plants from your yard and prune any dead pieces from healthy plants, as these can all present a fire hazard. Make sure to also mow your seasonal grasses and limb up all vegetation touching the ground before the beginning of each fire season.
The best step you can take today to make your home wildfire safe
Making sure your home is fire safe in time for the season can feel like an overwhelming task. If you’re ready to call in the experts, contact us at Ember Defense: (415) 573-2400. We offer a custom evaluation service to make and then implement recommendations for fire safety that are personalized to your unique home and property. Our team of experts will help you reach a level of maximum preparedness for wildfire season, so you can rest easy knowing that you’ve done everything you can to protect your home.