Fire Danger - The Importance of Defensible Space
What is defensible space?
Defensible space is the area between a house and an oncoming wildfire where the vegetation has been modified to reduce wildfire threat and provide for an area for firefighters to defend the house.
How does vegetation relate to wildfire risk?
Fire requires three components to burn - oxygen, fuel, and ignition. Vegetation is potential wildfire fuel. A wildfire can be slowed, the lengths of flames shortened, and the amount of heat reduced by reducing fuels.
The fire department will protect my house, so why bother with defensible space?
During a major wildfire event, it is unlikely there will be enough firefighting resources available to defend every house. The most important person in protecting a house from wildfire is not a firefighter, but the property owner. It’s the action taken by the owner before a wildfire occurs that is most critical.
Does defensible space require a lot of bare ground in my landscape?
No. While bare ground is certainly effective in reducing the wildfire threat, it is unnecessary and unacceptable due to appearance and soil erosion. Creating a wildfire resistant landscape around your home maintains visual integrity and privacy screening.
How big is an effective defensible space?
Defensible space varies by slope, vegetation, and construction materials of building.
Does defensible space make a difference?
Yes. Investigations indicate that homes with an effective defensible space are much more likely to survive a wildfire. Furthermore, homes with both an effective defensible space and a nonflammable roof (composition shingles, tile, metal, etc) are many times more likely to survive a wildfire than those without defensible space and flammable roofs (wood shakes or wood shingles).
Does having defensible space guarantee my house will survive a wildfire?
No. Under extreme conditions, almost any house can burn. But having a defensible space will improve the odds of your home surviving a wildfire.