defense space checklist

1. Clean pine needles, leaves and other debris from roofs and gutters at least twice a year. This eliminates an ignition source for firebrands, especially during hot, dry weather.

2. Screen attic, roof, eaves and foundation vents, and periodically check them to ensure that they are in good condition.

3. Screen or wall-in stilt foundations and decks; screens should be 1/8-inch or smaller metal mesh—1/16-inch mesh is best.

4. Woodpiles should be at least 30 feet from any structure, even in the winter, and on the same level or uphill. Nothing flammable should be within 10 feet of piles. You can store a week’s worth of wood inside the garage, away from windows.

5. Remove all unhealthy vegetation, regardless of its location on your property. Trees and shrubs that are stressed, diseased, dead or dying should be removed so they do not become a fuel source for potential fires.

6. Beyond the initial 15-30 feet, thin trees to achieve a 10-foot crown spacing. Occasionally, clumps of two or three trees are acceptable for a more natural appearance, if additional space surrounds them.

7. Prune tree branches within the defensible space up to a height of 10 feet above ground. Keep trees and shrubs pruned as needed.

8. Dispose of all slash and debris left from thinning by chipping, hauling away or piling for burning later. Always contact your county sheriff’s office or local fire department first for information about burning slash piles. Contact your local fire district for information regarding chipping and other removal options. The fire that destroyed my home was started by an illegal slash pile burn that got out of control.

9. Locate propane tanks and natural gas meters at least 30 feet from any structures, preferably on the same elevation as the house. A tank should not be located below your house because if it ignites,the fire would tend to burn uphill. Conversely, if a tank or meter is located above your house and develops a leak, gas will flow downhill into your home.

10. Clear all flammable vegetation within 10 feet of all tanks and meters.

11Do not visibly screen propane tanks or natural gas meters with shrubs, vegetation or flammable fencing. Instead, install 5 feet of nonflammable ground cover around the tank or meter.

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