For homeowners in areas with frequent wildfires, an ounce of prevention is worth the pound of cure. There are numerous preventive maintenance actions that homeowners can take that will mitigate fires from spreading. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), “Preparing homes for wildfire,” there are recommendations that homeowners can do around the house.
The NFPA recommends assessing the surroundings of the home and doing specific actions to mitigate fires. This concept of accessing the surroundings of the home is called the Home Ignition Zone (HIZ). The HIZ is divided into three zones depending on the distance away from the home.
Assessing Your Home for Wildfire
The Immediate Zone is 0’-5’ from the house. The home is the most critical zone, and first own homeowners should look at it. This entails cleaning debris around the house, repairing or replacing roof shingles or tiles, and making sure roofs and gutters are clean from leaves and debris. Roof litter can be easily cleaned off the roof with various methods, and using a gutter guard will allow homeowners to make sure leaves and other debris don’t get stuck on their roofs.
The Intermediate Zone is 5’-30” from the furthest point on the home. The home is the general landscaping/hardscaping around the home. The NFPA recommends clearing vegetation under propane tanks and large trees, creating firebreaks with driveways, paths, decks, and space trees and shrubs at least eighteen feet away.
The Extended Zone is 30’-100’ feet, up to 200’ from the house. This large area is for mitigating fires, not preventing them. The area is too large and challenging for most homeowners to make this zone truly fire-proof, so the goal is to make fires smaller and low to the ground. The recommendations include disposing of heavy accumulation of ground litter, dead plant/tree material, removing small trees around mature trees, and spacing trees further apart.
The articles provide an easy-to-follow checklist for those who want a simplified list to start making their homes much safer.