Protect yourself from brush fires, forest fires,

  grass fires and other types of wildfire

The threat of wildland fires for people living near wildland areas or using

recreational facilities in wilderness areas is real. Dry conditions at various

times of the year and in various parts of the United States greatly increase

the potential for wildland fires.


   Advance planning and knowing how to protect buildings in these areas can

lessen the devastation of a wildland fire.  There are several safety precautions

that you can take to reduce the risk of fire losses. Protecting your home from

wildfire is your responsibility. To reduce the risk, you'll need to consider the

fire resistance of your home, the topography of your property and the nature of

the vegetation close by.


Free U.S Government Safety Information

  about Wildfire Preparedness

How can I protect myself from wildfire?


Prepare for a Wildfire


Listed here are several suggestions that you can implement immediately.

Others need to be considered at the time of construction or remodeling.

You should also contact your local fire department, forestry office, emergency

management office or building department for information about local fire

laws, building codes and protection measures. Obtain local building codes and

weed abatement ordinances for structures built near wooded areas.

Find Out What Your Fire Risk Is

Learn about the history of wildfire in your area. Be aware of recent weather.

A long period without rain increases the risk of wildfire. Consider having a

professional inspect your property and offer recommendations for reducing

the wildfire risk. Determine your community's ability to respond to wildfire.

Are roads leading to your property clearly marked? Are the roads wide enough

to allow firefighting equipment to get through? Is your house number visible

from the roadside?

Learn and teach safe fire practices.

  • Build fires away from nearby trees or bushes.
  • Always have a way to extinguish the fire quickly and completely.
  • Install smoke detectors on every level of your home and near sleeping areas.
  • Never leave a fire--even a cigarette--burning unattended.
  • Avoid open burning completely, and especially during dry season.

Always be ready for an emergency evacuation.

Evacuation may be the only way to protect your family in a wildfire. Know where

to go and what to bring with you. You should plan several escape routes in case

roads are blocked by a wildfire.


Create Safety Zones Around Your Home

All vegetation is fuel for a wildfire, though some trees and shrubs are more

flammable than others. To reduce the risk, you will need to modify or eliminate

brush, trees and other vegetation near your home. The greater the distance is

between your home and the vegetation, the greater the protection.

Create a 30-foot safety zone around the house.
Keep the volume of vegetation in this zone to a minimum. If you live on a hill,

extend the zone on the downhill side. Fire spreads rapidly uphill. The steeper

the slope, the more open space you will need to protect your home. Swimming

pools and patios can be a safety zone and stone walls can act as heat shields

and deflect flames.  In this zone, you should also do the following:

Remove vines from the walls of the house.

Move shrubs and other landscaping away from the sides of the house.

Prune branches and shrubs within 15 feet of chimneys and stove pipes.

Remove tree limbs within 15 feet of the ground.

Thin a 15-foot space between tree crowns.

Replace highly flammable vegetation such as pine, eucalyptus, junipers
 and fir trees with lower growing, less flammable species.

Check with your local fire department or garden store for suggestions.

Replace vegetation that has living or dead branches from the ground-level up
 (these act as ladder fuels for the approaching fire).

Cut the lawn often keeping the grass at a maximum of 2 inches. Watch
 grass and other vegetation near the driveway, a source of ignition from
automobile exhaust systems.

Clear the area of leaves, brush, evergreen cones, dead limbs and fallen trees.

Create a second zone at least 100 feet around the house.
This zone should begin about 30 feet from the house and extend to at least

100 feet. In this zone, reduce or replace as much of the most flammable vegetation

as possible. If you live on a hill, you may need to extend the zone for several

hundred feet to provide the desired level of safety.

Clear all combustibles within 30 feet of any structure.
Install electrical lines underground, if possible
Ask the power company to clear branches from power lines.
Avoid using bark and wood chip mulch
Stack firewood 100 feet away and uphill from any structure.
Store combustible or flammable materials in approved safety
containers and keep them away from the house.
Keep the gas grill and propane tank at least 15 feet from any
structure. Clear an area 15 feet around the grill. Place a 1/4 inch
 mesh screen over the grill. Always use the grill cautiously but
 refrain from using it all during high risk times.

Protect Your Home

Remove debris from under sun decks and porches.
Any porch, balcony or overhang with exposed space underneath

is fuel for an approaching fire. Overhangs ignite easily by flying

embers and by the heat and fire that get trapped underneath.

If vegetation is allowed to grow underneath or if the space is used

for storage, the hazard is increased significantly. Clear leaves, trash

and other combustible materials away from underneath sun decks

and porches. Extend 1/2-inch mesh screen from all overhangs down

to the ground. Enclose wooden stilts with non-combustible material

such as concrete, brick, rock, stucco or metal. Use non-combustible

patio furniture and covers. If you're planning a porch or sun deck,

use non-combustible or fire-resistant materials. If possible, build

the structure to the ground so that there is no space underneath.

Enclose eaves and overhangs.
Like porches and balconies, eaves trap the heat rising along the

exterior siding. Enclose all eaves to reduce the hazard.

Cover house vents with wire mesh.
Any attic vent, soffit vent, louver or other opening can allow

embers and flaming debris to enter a home and ignite it.

Cover all openings with 1/4 inch or smaller corrosion-resistant wire mesh.

If you're designing louvers, place them in the vertical wall rather

than the soffit of the overhang.

Install spark arrestors in chimneys and stovepipes.
Chimneys create a hazard when embers escape through the top.

To prevent this, install spark arrestors on all chimneys, stovepipes

and vents for fuel-burning heaters. Use spark arrestors made of 12-gauge

welded or woven wire mesh screen with openings 1/2 inch across.

Ask your fire department for exact specifications. If you're building a

chimney, use non-combustible materials and make sure the top of the

chimney is at least two feet higher than any obstruction within 10 feet

of the chimney. Keep the chimney clean.

Use fire resistant siding.
Use fire resistant materials in the siding of your home, such as stucco,

metal, brick, cement shingles, concrete and rock. You can treat wood

siding with UL-approved fire retardant chemicals, but the treatment

and protection are not permanent.

Choose safety glass for windows and sliding glass doors.
Windows allow radiated heat to pass through and ignite combustible

materials inside. The larger the pane of glass, the more vulnerable it

is to fire. Dual- or triple-pane thermal glass, and fire resistant shutters

or drapes, help reduce the wildfire risk. You can also install

non-combustible awnings to shield windows and use shatter-resistant

glazing such as tempered or wireglass.

Prepare for water storage; develop an external water supply

such as a small pond, well or pool.

Other safety measures to consider at the time of construction

or remodeling.

Choose locations wisely; canyon and slope locations increase the risk of
exposure to wildland fires.

Use fire-resistant materials when building, renovating, or retrofitting structures.

Avoid designs that include wooden decks and patios.

Use non-combustible materials for the roof.

The roof is especially vulnerable in a wildfire. Embers and flaming debris can
travel great distances, land on your roof and start a new fire. Avoid
flammable roofing materials such as wood, shake and shingle.

Materials that are more fire resistant include single ply membranes,
 fiberglass shingles, slate, metal, clay and concrete tile. Clear gutters of
leaves and debris.

Disaster Preparedness Products:

This site contains information produced by FEMA and compiled by the site owners.
 We are not responsible for the accuracy or completeness of this information.
Layout and site design copyright 2007