Wildfire Defensible Space Evaluation

Wildfire Defensible Space Evaluation

Wildfire Partners, a county-level program and the first of its kind in the nation, was designed by partners to provide the best level of protection for homes and communities in wildfire-prone areas. By becoming a Wildfire Partner, homeowners in the wildland-urban interface improve the safety of their family, serve as a positive example for neighbors, and make their community more resilient. As a consultant for the program, Matt Tobler provided comprehensive, on-site assessments of home ignition zones, a customized report detailing actions homeowners should take to create defensible space and a follow-up visit to ensure that homeowners are fully prepared for future wildfires.

Matt Tobler, trained in "Assessing Wildfire Hazards in the Home Ignition Zone", utilized guidelines from the Colorado State Forest Service for creating wildfire-defensible zones. Most homes destroyed by wildfire are ignited by embers and/or grass fires coming into contact with combustible materials on or near the home. Three zones need to be addressed when creating defensible space:

  • Zone 1 - The area encircling the home and all other structures (wooden decks, fences, and boardwalks) for at least 30 feet on all sides.
  • Zone 2 - A transitional area between 30 and 100 feet from the home; plants in this zone should be low-growing, well irrigated and less flammable.
  • Zone 3 - The area 100 to 200 feet from the home; plants in this area should be thinned.

Recommendations provided to homeowners included a checklist from the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, which conducts objective, scientific research to identify and promote effective actions that strengthen homes, businesses, and communities against natural disasters. Items on the checklist include the slope and terrain of the property, roof, exterior walls, vents, attachments and other aspects of the home. Insurance industry partners participated in the Wildfire Partners program, tracking its implementation to assess its utility.

Senator Mark Udall: Preparing Our Homes for Wildfire Season
Protecting Your Home from Wildfire: Creating Wildfire-Defensible Zones
Forest Home Fire Safety