Defensible Space

Protect Your Home from a Wildland Fire

A wildland fire in this area could threaten hundreds of homes. Emergency resources may be spread thin and it's possible that fire crews may not be able to reach every structure. It is important, therefore, that homeowners take measures to protect their own home. In fact, California Law requires it. Fortunately, some simple steps can make a big difference.

Create defensible space around your home by removing or breaking up vegetation.

Defensible Space

Defensible space is the area around a home that can be landscaped in such a way as to reduce the chance that fire can reach the house. Fire uses vegetation like a road, and by removing or breaking up vegetation a homeowner can breakup or remove the paths that fire might use to get to the house.

These steps can greatly reduce the fire hazard around a home:

  • Keep lawn green and cut low.
  • Remove dead branches and leaves from yard.
  • Remove vegetation immediately adjacent to home.
  • Break up continuous vegetation such as shrubs or a line of trees.
  • Limb trees up 10' from the ground.
  • Cut back branches that overhang the house and back 10' from a chimney.
  • Remove shrubs from under trees that can carry fire up into the crowns.
  • Remove leaf litter from roofs and gutters and out from under porches, decks or wooden steps. Embers can travel several miles in windy conditions. Houses have been known to burn because embers, originating from fires miles away, fell into leaves in the gutters or under a porch!

These measures can reduce the chance that a fire might destroy your home. They also give emergency crews room to get in and defend your home. That's why it's called Defensible Space! Contact your local fire department for specific pointers on making your home more defensible.

Also visit the Firewise Communities and FIRESafe MARIN websites for more information on reducing the wildland fire risk to your home.

Last updated: February 28, 2015

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