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Defensible Space & Inspections

Defensible Space

Defensible space is essential to improve your home’s chance of surviving a wildfire. It’s the buffer you create between a building on your property and the grass, trees, shrubs, or any wildland area that surround it.  This space is needed to slow or stop the spread of wildfire and it protects your home from catching fire – either from direct flame contact or radiant heat. Defensible space is also important for the protection of the firefighters defending your home.

Home Hardening

Home hardening incorporates building construction and vegetation management. Appropriate building materials and related design features must be considered. Home hardening and maintaining defensible space reduce the chance of ignition from flying embers, flames, or radiant heat.

For additional information on home hardening, please visit FireSafe Marin’s information page on home hardening.

Home Ignition Zones

  • Remove accumulated leaves, needles and dead vegetative growth from the roof, gutters, decks, porches, and stairways.
  • All vegetation in this zone shall be well-irrigated and free from dead or dying material. Trim to avoid contact with structure.
  • Maintain adequate space between tree canopies. Remove all dead and dying branches.
  • Remove all Combustible Vegetation. Remaining plants shall not be continuous. See Remove Combustible Vegetation section.
  • Avoid fire-hazardous plants, particularly under or near windows.
  • Mulch should not make contact with structure. Rock and pavers are encouraged.
  • Remove all Junipers, Bamboo, Acacia, and Italian Cypress.
  • Remove all vegetation within 10 feet of chimney or stovepipe.
  • Keep woodpiles and other highly combustible material at least 10 feet from structures.
  • Remove lower tree branches within 5 feet of the ground, not to exceed ¹/3 of the tree’s total height.
  • Cut and remove grasses and weeds to a maximum height of 3 inches.
  • Loose surface material, including leaves, twigs, and mulch, should be no more than 3 inches deep.
  • Remove all Combustible Vegetation (single-specimen exemptions may apply).
  • Considering slope, maintain adequate horizontal and vertical spacing to prevent a “fire bridge” or “ladder.” See Plant and Tree Spacing section.
  • Remove piles of dead vegetation
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