Defensible space refers to the area around a house that is specifically managed and designed to reduce the risk of wildfire and protect the structure from approaching flames. This is the time of year to be thinking about and planning defensible space. Creating defensible space is crucial during fire seasons to increase the chances of a house surviving a wildfire. Here are some key principles and recommendations for establishing defensible space:
1. Clear vegetation: Remove flammable materials such as dead plants, leaves, branches, and other debris from within at least 30 feet (9 meters) around the house. This includes clearing the roof, gutters, and the ground surrounding the structure.
2. Maintain spacing: Create adequate spacing between trees, shrubs, and other vegetation to prevent the rapid spread of fire. Trim tree branches so that they are at least 10 feet (3 meters) away from chimneys and other parts of the house.
3. Select fire-resistant plants: Choose fire-resistant vegetation and landscaping materials for the immediate vicinity of the house. This includes plants with high moisture content, low resin or sap content, and low flammability. Avoid highly flammable plants like evergreen shrubs, junipers, and ornamental grasses.
4. Create fuel breaks: Establish fuel breaks by creating gaps or non-flammable zones between vegetation and structures. These breaks can be driveways, gravel paths, or patios that act as barriers to slow down the spread of fire.
5. Manage trees: Regularly prune trees to remove dead branches and maintain a safe distance between the tree canopy and the ground. Thin the tree crowns to reduce the likelihood of fire climbing into the upper branches.
6. Consider hardscaping: Incorporate non-flammable materials, such as gravel, concrete, or stone, in landscaping design to create fire-resistant zones near the house. This can include pathways, patios, and firebreaks.
7. Ensure access for firefighters: Maintain clear and accessible driveways that can accommodate emergency vehicles. Trim branches and vegetation to provide a minimum clearance of 12 feet (3.6 meters) above the driveway.
8. Manage woodpiles and storage: Store firewood and combustible materials at least 30 feet (9 meters) away from the house. Stack firewood uphill and away from structures to prevent fire spread.
9. Regular maintenance: Continuously monitor and maintain the defensible space throughout the fire season. Regularly remove dry vegetation, maintain cleared areas, and keep gutters and roofs clear of debris.
It’s important to note that specific recommendations may vary depending on the local fire risk, regulations, and recommendations provided by fire agencies or authorities in your area. Consulting with local fire officials or experts can provide valuable guidance tailored to your specific location and circumstances. Learn more at https://www.dnr.wa.gov/firewise