Fire Prevention: 10 Ways to Create “Defensible Space”
With summer in full-swing, now is the time to be proactive in your property’s approach to brush management and fire prevention. Although fires are a year-round risk here in San Diego, the summer heat, dry conditions, and Santa Ana wind season encourage conditions conducive to wildfires and measures should be taken to limit your property’s risk.
Creating “defensible space” is essential in preventing fire damage, as it acts as a barrier between the areas and structures on your property and a progressing wildfire. To do this, all highly flammable vegetation should be cleared, limited, or replaced with plant material that’s more fire-resistant. The County of San Diego recommends that these areas encompass a 100-foot radius around any structure (unless otherwise notified by your local fire agency).
Here are 10 ways to increase defensible space and limit your property’s risk of fire damage:
- Plant fire-resistant, irrigated landscaping in the first 50 feet around the perimeter of any structure (natural vegetation should be limited to the other 50 feet of this space)
- Maintain natural vegetation year-round to no more than 6 inches above ground, in the 50 feet of space farthest away from any structure
- Remove dead or dying/diseased vegetation
- Keep trees and plants trimmed regularly to avoid overhang or direct contact with structures on the property
- Install and maintain proper irrigation for landscaping in the first 50 feet around the structures’ perimeter
- Trees and shrubs should be maintained by deep watering at least once a month for drought tolerant species and once a week for plants that require more water
- Prune trees & shrubs by cutting off any branches up to 6 feet above the ground to prevent ground fires from spreading upwards into trees.
- Choose fire-resistant plants for your property’s defensible space areas; this includes landscaping that’s low-maintenance, grows close to the ground, drought-tolerant, and doesn’t accumulate excessive leaves, dead branches, etc.
- Clear common areas between houses or structures, and prune areas of heavy vegetation that are a fire threat
- Routinely check and clean roofs and gutters on all structures to remove debris
If you have questions or concerns about how to create or enhance the defensible space on your property, or for general brush management questions or county/city regulations, contact your Benchmark Account Manager.