It’s no secret that wildfires have taken their toll in the past few years in the Pacific Northwest. From varying climate change factors to increased use of recreational areas, fires seem near inevitable every year – especially in the later summer months when drier conditions tend to occur. At National Fire Fighter, we’re committed to stocking ourselves and our customers with the education and the equipment they’d need to stay as safe as possible and protect their communities, property, and people from the destructive nature of wildfires.
What Is Defensible Space?
Defined as an area surrounding a building or structure that has been modified to reduce the risk of wildfire, Defensible Space refers to the creation of a “buffer zone” where flammable materials have been minimized. By removing vegetation such as dead leaves, brush, and trees, and implementing fire-resistant techniques, Defensible Space gives firefighters a safe space to work within while trying to protect and defend their homes, business, or other kinds of property from wildfires.
Why Is Defensible Space Important?
Defensible space is crucial in fire prevention for several reasons:
- Fire containment: By creating a defensible space, the spread of fire can be slowed or halted, preventing it from reaching the structure. The removal of flammable materials reduces the available fuel, and the strategic placement of fire-resistant vegetation and landscaping features can act as barriers, helping to control the fire's path.
- Structure protection: Defensible space increases the likelihood that a structure will survive a wildfire. By reducing the immediate fuel sources and creating a separation between the structure and surrounding vegetation, the chances of ignition and subsequent damage to the building are significantly decreased.
- Firefighter safety: Defensible space provides a safer environment for firefighters to operate. By establishing a buffer zone, firefighters have more room to maneuver and access the structure, increasing their ability to suppress the fire effectively. It also reduces the intensity of the fire, minimizing the risks to the firefighting personnel.
- Ember control: During a wildfire, burning embers can be carried by wind and land on structures, igniting them from a distance. Defensible space includes measures to minimize ember ignition risks, such as using fire-resistant roofing materials, sealing gaps and openings, and removing combustible debris from roofs and gutters.
- Community-wide impact: Defensible space is not only beneficial for individual properties but also for the overall community. By consistently implementing these practices across a neighborhood or region, the collective efforts can create a fire-resilient community, reducing the risk of large-scale wildfires and safeguarding multiple properties simultaneously.
Defensible Space Zones
According to CAL FIRE’s readyforwildfire.org, Defensible Spaces can be understood through Zones with varying levels of preparation within each one. Zone 0, which is from 0-5 feet from an existing building or structure, has been scientifically proven to be the most imperative of defensible spaces and includes creating an ember-resistant zone from buildings, structures, and decks. Zone 1, extending 30 feet from existing buildings or structures, is the “Lean, Clean, and Green” zone and requires the removal of all dead plants, grass, and vegetation. Zone 2, ranging from 30 to 100 feet from buildings or structures, is a reduced fuel zone. In addition to fire prevention landscaping and maintenance, there are several ways to keep the zones in or around your home, property, business, or structure as safe as possible from wildfire destruction. Click HERE to download CAL FIRE Wildfire Action Plan to learn more about Defensible Space Zone specifics. According to the action plan, “the less there is to burn near your home, the less exposure your home will have to wildfire.” Stay informed this upcoming fire season and add these preventative measures to your to-do lists BEFORE wildfire season starts.
Defensible Space Equipment
When creating defensible space for wildfire protection, it's important to have certain equipment readily available. Here are some essential items that individuals should consider keeping on hand:
- Fire extinguishers: Place multipurpose fire extinguishers in easily accessible locations around the property. Ensure that they are properly maintained and regularly inspected.
- Shovels and rakes: Have a set of sturdy shovels and rakes available for clearing debris, creating firebreaks, and extinguishing small spot fires. These tools can help remove combustible materials and control the spread of fire.
- Chainsaws and hand saws: Maintain a chainsaw or hand saw to cut and remove dead or overhanging tree branches, shrubs, and vegetation that could serve as fuel for a fire. Ensure that users are trained in proper chainsaw safety procedures.
- Ladders: Keep ladders long enough to reach the roof of your property. They can be essential for accessing rooftops during fire events to clear gutters, remove debris, or perform firefighting tasks.
- Hoses and sprinklers: Have a sufficient length of garden hoses that can reach all areas of your property. Sprinklers can be strategically placed on roofs, near vulnerable structures, or in the yard to provide a wetting effect, reducing the chances of ignition.
- Water supply: Maintain a reliable water source, such as a well, water tank, or swimming pool, that can be used to supplement firefighting efforts. Ensure that there are proper connections and hoses available to access the water when needed.
- Protective gear: Have personal protective equipment (PPE) readily accessible, including fire-resistant clothing, gloves, goggles, and sturdy boots. This gear can provide protection when working in hazardous conditions or during evacuation.
- Emergency supplies: Keep a supply of emergency items, such as a first aid kit, batteries, flashlight, portable radio, and a ready-to-go emergency kit. These supplies can be useful during fire events or evacuations.
Preparing For Wildfire Season with NFFC
NFFC is a long-standing reliable provider of wildland fire protection products and equipment. Shop our 2023 catalog, or find what you need on our website to complete your Defensible Spaces this wildfire season.