Last week we covered the importance of creating a defensible space around your home for fire safety. Weed through these examples of how you can adhere to these safety guidelines and state laws on your property, starting with (the newly designated,) Zone 0 or otherwise known as the “immediate zone”.

Zone 0: With the passing of Assembly Bill 3074 in 2020, a “Zone 0” was created which will require the board of forestry and fire prevention to create new regulation around a “no ember zone” which is within 0-5’ of any structure or home by 2023. Although there is still much to be sorted out with AB 3074, the good news is there is already a lot of information on this zone that we can use to be proactive in our fight for fire prevention. While this is not yet required by law, science has shown this zone to be critical when defending a home against wildfire, mostly because it is where embers will land and begin to catch flame.

This zone is easy to identify as it extends only 5’ beyond your structure, but it’s important to remember it also includes your structure along with decks, patios, and porches. Here are some ideas on how to harden this area of your property:

  • Remove all vegetation from this area if possible, including any tree limbs or branches that have grown within 5’ of your building. In an ideal situation you would have no vegetation within the 5’ buffer zone.
  • Remove all wood mulch and install rock mulch instead. Cobblestone or decomposed granite can be a great look and comes in many different colors to compliment the color of your home.
  • Install hardscape such as concrete, pavers or other non-flammable material in place of typical landscape plants.
  • Do not store firewood adjacent to your home as this could easily allow an ember to spark a flame.
  • Install metal screening under all decks and overhangs, we saw in the recent CZU Fire that high winds would blow embers under decks allowing them to ignite; small metal screening can help prevent this.
  • Replace all wood furniture with metal furniture that is non-flammable. Make sure that all combustible materials, especially gas cans, are not stored close to the home or outbuildings.
  • Always keep this area clean and clear of debris, especially leaves and weeds which can become a perfect environment for embers to catch fire.
  • Installing stone or concrete retaining walls in place of wood retaining walls can also help in this zone. If you have a wood retaining wall that you cannot afford to replace think about lining it with metal to help prevent it from catching fire. Metal flashing can also work well on fences and other wood structures.
  • Construct everything out of metal or other non-flammable material whenever possible, think of handrails on your deck and other structures. If you go with metal, not only will it last longer but it will make for a safer home.

The biggest issues I consistently see are leaves in the gutters or on the roof, branches hanging over roofs or touching the house, overgrown plants/weeds that are touching the house and firewood or other combustibles being stored against the house. There are many things you can do to help protect your home from a wildfire. Make sure these measures are taken now and not at the last minute, you may not have time to prepare in an emergency. For example, some people may think wood furniture isn’t an issue because they will move it away from the home in a fire situation but you may not always have that time. It’s better to be over-prepared than under. Every property is different and will have additional challenges and opportunities to work with, make sure you take time to inspect your house today.

Check back for the next Preparing for Wildfire Season, Part Three which will dive deeper into alternative options you can use in your landscaping and adaptations you can make for Zone 1 to increase fire-safety.