The Humboldt County Fire Safe Council (HCFSC) is proud to present a new guide for Humboldt County residents developed in collaboration with UC Cooperative Extension. Preparing Your Home for Wildfire is an excellent guide for anyone seeking to understand the key elements of wildfire resistance. Read on for a preview of what's inside.
Home Protection Guidance
You can significantly improve the chances that your home will survive a future wildfire through material choices, design and installation options, and regular maintenance.
Fire-resistant construction relies on awareness of small details that can make your home vulnerable to embers, in addition to building with appropriate materials, and regular home and property maintenance.
|Implement 0-5: The proper placement and maintenance of plants around the home is essential. Any plant will burn under the right conditions. Keep vegetation away from the first 5 feet of the home.|
|Be aware of slopes: Fire easily moves up slope. Reduce vegetation down slope of the home. Site new construction away from the slope.|
|Keep gutters clean: Embers ignite debris in gutters that can result in flames bypassing the roofing. A piece of flashing called a metal drip edge, can block flame penetration at roof edge. A noncombustible gutter guard can be helpful.|
Key Elements of Wildfire Resistance. Click the image to enlarge.
Defensible Space: What Do You Really Need?
Defensible space, or the well-maintained area around the structures on a property, is a critical part of wildfire preparedness. A hardened home will stand little chance of survival surrounded by large amounts of combustible vegetation. Reduce your home's risk of ignition and increase firefighters' ability to protect it, by doing the following:
Zone 1: Remove combustibles (woody plants, mulch, and stored items) surrounding any structure and under and around attached decks. Cut grass or install hardscaping.
Zone 2: Eliminate the connectivity between islands of vegetation by increasing the spacing between trees, removing lower branches of trees and shrubs, and creating areas of irrigated and mowed grass or hardscape between lush vegetation islands. Plants should be properly irrigated and maintained to remove dead/dry material.
Zone 3: Reduce the density of the trees, shrubs, plants, and grasses to slow fire spread and reduce flame heights. Keep shrubs and trees well-spaced and pruned to eliminate fuel ladders, where fire can climb from the ground to the tops of the vegetation.
Where Is My Home Most Vulnerable?
Take the Assessment and Find Out
The first step toward any solution is identifying the problem. Use the FLASH Home Risk Assessment to evaluate the vulnerabilities of your home, understand why they matter and what to do. The Assessment discusses all of the key elements summarized in Preparing Your Home for Wildfire.
There is much more that can be said about home hardening, defensible space, and other strategies to enhance wildfire resilience. Deepen your knowledge with tips from some of our favorite resources:
Living with Wildfire in Northwestern California magazine includes an entire section (Be Prepared: Make Your Home Fire Safe, pg 22) on preparing your home and property, including A Do-It-Yourself Primer to Thinning a Young Forest.
Tools for Homestead Fire Safety and Suppression was designed specifically for the rural landowner, created by Kathy Weber. What's your "toolbox" missing?
Wildfire Home Retrofit Guide from the Tahoe Living with Fire program is a go-to for those living in any wildfire environment.
Home Hardening Video Series—developed by Mendocino County Fire Safe Council in partnership with UC Cooperative Extension—offers practical, DIY improvements with plenty of visuals to guide you. Check it out!
Funding for Preparing Your Home for Wildfire provided by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection as a part of the California Climate Investments program. Thanks to Kathy Weber for the illustrations.
Download the Guide and Learn More by Visiting Our Fire Safety Resources List