100 Feet of Defensible Space is the Law
In January 2005 a new state law became effective that extended the defensible space clearance around homes and structures from 30 feet to a minimum of 100 feet. Proper clearance to 100 feet dramatically increases the chance of your house surviving a wildfire. This defensible space also provides for firefighter safety when protecting homes during a wildland fire.
Check out the California Department of Forestry Website for more information.
Fire is a fact of life in our community. The climate and scenery that make this such a desirable place to live, also makes it desirable for fire. It's really a matter of when, not if a fire will occur. The individual impact of these fires will vary greatly depending on your family's preparedness. By taking these simple and common sense steps, you may be able to avoid a catastrophic loss to your home and property or your neighbor's:
- Create a "defensible space" by removing/clearing all flammable vegetation at least 100 feet from all structures.
- Landscape with fire resistant plants.
- Keep trees cleared a minimum of 10 feet from any part of the structure's roof.
- Space native trees and shrubs at least 10 feet apart.
- For trees taller that 18 feet, remove lower branches within six feet of the ground.
- Plant trees which will not interfere with power lines.
- Remove dead leaves, needles, and woodpiles at least 30 feet from all structures.
- Keep your driveway accessible and clearly marked. Fire engines need access which is approximately 12 feet wide and 15 tall.
In the event of a major incident in our district, it is very likely that many more homes will be threatened than fire engines are available. Please initiate the above steps to make your house defensible. Help us help you!
- Have your chimney inspected annually and cleaned regularly.
- Make sure and have a spark arrestor on your chimney.
- Clear all leaves and needles from your roof and gutters.
- Never store cleaned-out fireplace ashes in the garbage or in combustible containers. This sounds like common sense but many people don't realize the ashes can smolder for days. Store any ashes away from structures or other flammables.
- Never overload the capacity of electrical outlets.
- Change you smoke detector batteries twice a year, at daylight savings switch.
- When using candles, never leave them unattended. Always extinguish candles prior to leaving the residence.
- Designate a meeting place outside your home.
- Secure your water heater and never store flammable liquids such as gasoline in the same area.
- Discuss stop, drop, and roll techniques with your family.
Download CDF's Homeowner's Checklist
Download a free fire prevention guide, courtesy of Sonoma County Office of Emergency Services