Defensible space is the area around a home or other structure that has been modified to reduce fire hazard. In this area, natural and manmade fuels are treated, cleared or reduced to slow the spread of wildfire. Creating defensible space also works in the reverse, and reduces the chance of a structure fire spreading to neighboring homes or the surrounding forest. Defensible space gives your home a fighting chance against an approaching wildfire. Creating an effective defensible space involves a series of management zones in which different treatment techniques are used. Develop these zones around each building on your property, including detached garages, storage buildings, barns and other structures. The actual design and development of your defensible space depends on several factors: size and shape of building(s), construction materials, slope of the ground, surrounding topography, and sizes and types of vegetation on your property. You may want to request additional guidance from your local fire department as you plan a defensible space for your property.
Defensible space provides another important advantage during a fire: increased firefighter safety. Firefighters are trained to protect structures only when the situation is relatively safe for them to do so. The presence or absence of defensible space around a structure is a significant determining factor used in the structural triage process, as defensible space gives firefighters an opportunity to do their job more safely. In turn, this increases their ability to protect your home. It is important to remember that with wildfire, there are no guarantees. Creating a proper defensible space does not mean that your home is guaranteed to survive a wildfire, but it does need to be addressed once a year.