Defensible Space Treatments
Defensible space treatments are an essential first line of defense for residential structures. The goal of the treatments is to significantly reduce or remove flammable vegetation within a prescribed distance from structures.
Defensible space reduces the fire intensity and improves firefighter and homeowner chances for successfully defending a structure against oncoming wildfire.
NOTE: This information is taken from the www.livingwithfire.info, an incredibly helpful tool for the community during this hot fire season. Please visit this link, send to your friends, and take efforts to learn more about how to make your property fire-safe this year.
Property Owner Recommendations
- Remove, reduce, and replace vegetation to create defensible space around homes according to the guidelines in the Defensible Space Guidelines fact sheet.
(Download the Defensible Space Guidelines fact sheet for Washoe County)
This area should be kept:
- Lean: There are only small amount of flammable vegetation.
- Clean: There is no accumulation of dead vegetation or other flammable debris.
- Green: Existing plants are healthy and green during the fire season.
- Store firewood a minimum distance of thirty feet from structures.
- Mow or remove brush growing against fences in the community. The minimum distance for clearance should be ten feet in grass and 25 feet in brush.
- Enclose areas under wood decks and porches when possible or maintain these areas to be free of weeds and other flammable debris. Box in eves and cover ventilation openings with very fine metal wire mesh to prevent embers from entering the attic and crawl spaces.
- Clear all vegetation and combustible materials around propane tanks for a minimum of ten feet.
- Clear weeds and brush to a width of ten feet along both sides of the driveways.
- Maintain a minimum clearance of thirty feet from the crown of trees that remain within the defensible space zone. Keep this area free of smaller trees, shrubs, and other ladder fuels.
- Trim and remove tree branches a minimum of fifteen feet from the ground, but not more than one-third the tree height, to reduce ladder fuels on all deciduous and coniferous trees within the defensible space zone. Prune all dead and diseased branches.
- Prune all tree branches to a minimum distance of fifteen feet from buildings, paying special attention around chimneys.
- Mow grass within the defensible space zone to maintain a maximum height of four inches.
- Thin sagebrush and other shrubs to a spacing between shrubs that is equal to twice the shrub height.
- Immediately dispose of cleared vegetation when implementing defensible space treatments. This material dries quickly and poses a fire hazard if left on site.
- Where possible, irrigate all trees and large shrubs that remain in close proximity to structures to increase their fire resiliency. This is especially important during drought conditions.
- Maintain the defensible space as needed.
- Replace wood shake roofs with fire resistant roofing materials.
This LivingWithFire.info Learning Center includes a wide array of educational materials and links to other useful resources to help you learn how to reduce the wildfire threat to your family, home and community. Most of the materials were prepared by the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension faculty and have been peer reviewed to ensure relevance and accuracy. Topics range from pre-fire activities such as creating defensible space, to advice on safe evacuation practices, to what to do when returning home after a wildfire. These materials are available in written, interactive and video formats, with some available in Spanish, allowing you to use the format that works best for you.