Many folks are choosing to build homes outside of established urban areas. This, of course, offers many benefits like scenic beauty, economics and escaping the rat race. But along with those benefits comes an increased risk of fire when developing along the wildland/urban interface. Some developments are being constructed in areas with inadequate water resources or without accessibility for emergency vehicles. These are things that homeowners should be aware of and try to correct if they have those issues.  Easier to correct, are things you can do around your own home to create defensible space.

Creating defensible space doesn’t mean surrounding your home with rock. It does, however, mean that flammable items and plants should be removed from close to your home. Some of these things are obvious, like removing dead branches that overhang your roof.  Here are some other things you can do to help keep you and your home safe from wildfire.

  • Avoid putting wood shingles on a new roof. This should save you some money on insurance, too.
  • Cover your chimney with screen ¼ inch mesh and remove branches that come within 15 feet of the chimney.
  • Use ½ inch screen beneath porches and  decks so sparks can’t get under your home.
  • Clean pine needs from roofs, gutters and edges of decks where they meet the house.
  • Reduce the number of trees in a heavily wooded area.
  • Make sure your house numbers and street sign are visible for emergency vehicles.
  • Thin a 15-foot space between tree crowns and remove limbs that are within 10’ of the ground. If you live above a steep slope, remove vegetation out to 100 feet or more.
  • Stack woodpiles at least 30 feet from your house and clear vegetation away from the pile.
  • If you use propane, locate the tank at least 30 feet away from your house and surround it with at least 10 foot of clearance.
  • Choose ornamental plants that are fire-resistive.
  • If you have a log, wood frame house, keep a plant free zone within 3-5 feet of the house. If non-flammable, use low growing, fire resistive shrubs.

These are just a few tips that could be helpful in protecting your home.  In case of a wild fire you should remember that many homes will be in danger and there are only so many fire trucks and firemen.  They will try to save the homes that they are most likely able to save.  We cannot reasonably expect them to put their lives in danger to try and save a home that is beyond saving.  Knowing this, it’s well worth the time and effort it takes to create an area of defensible space in case of wildfire.

For more information about defensible space, you can go online to Firewise.org.

Houses on a hill with defensible space

House with defensible space in the forest

Fireman putting out prairie fire

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