Most Common Defensible Space Advice
Lake Wildwood has a team of Advisors that have completed 469 visits in the last few years… and 338 of those just last year!
Right now, the Defensible Space Advisor Visit (DSAV) program is on hold. Hopefully we can start again soon and visit more properties on site and advise you on your specific needs. You can contact the Fire Safe Council at http://www.AreYouFireSafe.com when the program starts up again.
In the meantime, while many of us have some extra at-home time, I have come up with this list of the top ten most common recommendations I’ve made. If you have had your visit already, here’s a review. If you haven’t had one yet, you might see something in this list that you can get started on before someone on our team can come and see you.
1. If you don’t have one yet, order your reflective address number sign from the Fire Department or from the Fire-Safe Council in Grass Valley.
2. Survey the fuel along your driveway. The recommendation is horizontal fuel modification of 10-feet on both sides. Remove some of the more hazardous plants especially like juniper and rosemary. Create some space between the plants, removing the solid wall of fuel right next to your evacuation route.
3. Clear any tree limbs above the driveway to 15-feet, to allow for firetruck access. If you don’t have the equipment for this talk to your tree service soon to schedule work… they are going to be busy.
4. Establish 5-feet of clear space from the house, including deck. Easy fixes here are raking bark mulch away from the house, cutting back plants that touch the house, and consider removing some plants. Often, we have valuable and beautiful plants near our homes… like Rhododendrons, Japanese Maples, or Camellias. Making choices about what to do about these plants is about weighing risk to reward, and these are very personal choices. Ensuring that no flammable material is underneath them, and that they trimmed as far away from the house, and especially windows, as possible will mitigate the risk. Depending on you, and the plant, its rewards may outweigh the risk.
5. Check the screens on your crawl space vents and attic Gable vents. Often you’ll find a ¼” mesh. Penn Valley Hardware and other suppliers have a product called Vulcan vents you might look into. Another solution is backing the existing screen with 1/8” mesh (hardware cloth) from Penn Valley fencing.
6. Clearing leaves, pine needles, and other debris from the roof and gutters. Yup, you’ll have to do it again. It’s one of those year-round things.
7. Move firewood and other wood at least 30-feet away from the structure. If you must keep it closer to the house, get a Fire-resistant tarp to cover it during fire season.
8. If you have a deck: We often find the underside of the deck enclosed with lattice, and that leaves have blown in through the holes, or wood, lumber, or other possibly flammable items are stored there. Embers can be blown through the lattice openings. So, remove flammable items stored there, rake or blow out leaves and debris. Then, consider removing the lattice for easier maintenance in the future, or, backing the lattice with 1/8” mesh screen to prevent leaves and embers from flying inside.
9. ‘Ladder fuel’ is when a plant below another one catches fire from embers and then sets the one above it on fire. It’s best to keep some vertical distance between plants. Give them as much space as possible to avoid the ladder effect.
10. When there is a large mass of plants in a space, there is a large mass of fuel – I suggest what I call ‘editing’ to reduce fuel. Sometimes we see hedges, sometimes big clumps; remove some of them to make space between plants, reducing the possibility of all of them igniting at once.
One thing we all have in common right now is some extra downtime at home. So, I made this list and now it’s up to you!
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