Living with Fire              Why We’re Worried              The Fire Environment    
Defensible Space              Making Your Home Defensible    
When Wildfire Approaches              Fire Department Phone Numbers

How a house is designed, where it is built, materials used in its construction and landscape, and access to the home all influence survivability during wildfire. Presented below are recommendations and an illustration modified from California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection’s publication “How to Make Your Home Fire Safe.” These recommendations will make a home much easier to defend and will improve its chances of surviving a wildfire.
1. Roof
• Remove dead branches hanging over your roof.
• Remove any branches within 15 feet of your 
• Clean all dead leaves and needles from your roof
and gutters. Install a roof that meets the fire
resistance classification of “Class C” or better. Local
jurisdictions may require a higher fire resistance
rating. Check with your fire marshal.
• Cover your chimney outlet and stovepipe with a
nonflammable screen of one-half inch or smaller

2. Construction
• Build your home away from ridge tops, canyons and
areas between high points on a ridge.
• Build your home at least 30 feet from your property
line .
• Use fire resistant building materials.
• Enclose the underside of balconies and above
ground decks with fire resistant materials.
• Limit the size and number of windows in your home
that face large areas of vegetation.
• Install only dual-paned or triple-paned windows.
• Consider sprinkler systems within the house. They
may protect your home while you’re away or prevent
a house fire from spreading into the wildlands.

3. Landscape 
• See “Creating An Effective Defensible Space” and
“Firescape - Fire Safe Landscape Design.”

4. Yard
• Stack woodpiles at least 30 feet from all structures
an clear away flammable vegetation within 10 feet of
wood piles.
• Locate LPG tanks (butane and propane) at least 30
feet from any structure and surround them with 10
feet of clearance.
• Remove all stacks of construction materials, pine
needles, leaves and other debris from your yard.
• Contact your local fire department to see if open
burning is allowed in your area; if so, obtain a permit
before burning debris.
• Where burn barrels are allowed, clear flam-
mable materials at least 10 feet around the
barrel; cover the open top with a non-flam-
mable screen with mesh no larger than one
quarter inch.

5. Emergency Water Supply
• Maintain an emergency water supply that
meets fire department standards through
one of the following:
— a community water/hydrant system 
— a cooperative emergency storage tank
with neighbors 
— a minimum storage supply of 2,500
gallons on your property
• Clearly mark all emergency water sources
and notify your local fire department of their
• Create easy firefighter access to your
closest emergency water source.
•If your water comes from a well, consider an
emergency generator to operate the pump
during a power failure.

6. Access
• Identify at least two exit routes from your neighbor-
• Construct roads that allow two way traffic.
• Design road width, grade and curves to allow access
for large emergency vehicles.
• Construct driveways to allow large emergency equip-
ment to reach your house.
• Design bridges to carry heavy emergency vehicles,
including bulldozers carried on large trucks.
• Post clear road signs to show traffic restrictions such
as dead-end roads, and weight and height
• Make sure dead-end roads and long driveways have
turnaround areas wide enough for emergency vehi-
cles. Construct turnouts along one-way roads.
• Clear flammable vegetation at least 10 feet from
roads and five feet from driveways.
• Cut back overhanging tree branches above roads.
• Construct fire barriers, such as greenbelts, parks,
golf courses and athletic fields.
• Make sure that your street is named or numbered,
and a sign is visibly posted at each street
• Make sure that your street name and house number
are not duplicated elsewhere in the county.
• Post your house address at the beginning of your
driveway, or on your house if it is easily visible from
the road.

7. Outside
• Designate an emergency meeting place outside your
• Practice emergency exit drills regularly.
• Make sure that electric service lines, fuse boxes and
circuit breaker panels are installed and maintained
as prescribed by code.
• Contact qualified individuals to perform electrical
maintenance and repairs.