Protecting Your Home
Home Firewise Checklist
(Text provided courtesy of City of Ashland, Oregon)
During a wildfire, airborne embers are a major cause of home ignitions. It is extremely important that these embers do not find a place to land where they can ignite your home. The following steps can greatly reduce the risk of ignition:
- Remove all combustible leaves and needles from rooftops and gutters.
- Clear a "fuel-free" zone within 5 feet of any structure, including decks. Clear all leaves and bark mulch and trim vegetation back, especially where the siding comes down to ground level. Compost, dirt, and gravel are acceptable within a few feet of the home as ground cover.
- Check all exterior vents along the eves, walls, and foundation to make sure the screening is intact.
- Move anything that can burn at least 30 feet from the house, uphill if possible. This includes lumber and firewood.
- Keep propane tanks at least 30 feet from a structure and clear 10 feet or more around it.
- Close off spaces under decks and exterior vents with 1/8 inch metal screening to prevent embers from entering. Keep spaces under the deck free of all combustible materials i.e. lumber, leaves, and firewood.
- Clearly post your address on your home and at all driveway junctions. Numbers should be at least 4 inches tall and reflective for easy view in smoke or dark.
- Replace shake roofs with Class B or Class A roofing material.
For more information, check out Be Ember Aware: A Visual Checklist of Vulnerable Ignition Spots (PDF)
0-30 Feet From Structures
The above requirements also apply to landscaping plants. Watch out for highly flammable landscaping like Junipers, Cypresses, and Arborvitae close to your home. It is recommended you remove these species within 30 feet of your home. Go to the Fire Resistant Plants page for a guide to fire-safe landscape plants, or call for a brochure.
30-100 Feet From Structures
- Thin out understory brush, especially under the canopy of any trees. If there are no trees, thin out around the largest species of brush and prune away lower limbs and dead wood.
- Highly combustible trees and shrubbery should be spaced to prevent interlocking canopies at maturity. Consult with an arborist or forester if you are unsure which species are best for your property. All dead vegetation needs to be removed.
- Prune lower limbs on all trees as suggested in the section above.
- Islands of more dense trees or brush can be left if isolated from surrounding vegetation.
Driveways & Roads
- The road surface must have at least 13.5 feet of vertical clearance and 12 feet of horizontal clearance for fire vehicles to pass.
- In addition to the above minimum clearances, thin out brush and limb trees an additional 10 feet on each side, especially if it is more than 100 feet long. Increase the distance on the downhill side of the driveway crosses a slope.
Step 3: Ongoing Maintenance
Now that you’ve created your defensible space, you’ll have to maintain it going forward. Here’s a link to a new publication with a lot of good information on how to Keep Your Home Safe from Wildfire PDF Download .
Dispose of all debris safely. Material can only be burned during an authorized burn window. Material can also be disposed of at the Jo Co Transfer Station (formerly Jo-Gro) (1749 Merlin Road, 541-479-3331).
Free Home Assessment
Need help figuring it all out? You can get a free home assessment! Contact Fire Marshal Joe Hyatt.
Dispose of all debris safely. Material can only be burned during an authorized burn window. Material can also be disposed of at the Josephine County Transfer Station/Recycle Center (1749 Merlin Road, 541-479-3331).
Free Home Assessment
Need help to figure it all out? You can get a free home assessment! Contact Fire Marshal Joe Hyatt.
- What is the Wildland Urban Interface Zone (WUI) and where is it?
Simply, the Wildland Urban Interface Zone is where homes and wildlands mix. Wildlands can be forests, brush, or grass. Homes can be a cabin in the woods or residential neighborhoods. Homes located in the WUI have a greater risk of being affected by a wildfire. Check to see if your property is located in an At-Risk Area.
- What is the Home Ignition Zone?
Physical fire science research has shown that homes burn during wildfires due to the condition of the home and its surroundings within 100 to 200 feet. This "home ignition zone" can be modified by the resident to be ignition resistant. In most cases, when adequately prepared, a house can withstand a wildland fire without the intervention of the fire service.
- What role do homeowners play?
The homeowner’s responsibility is to create and maintain their home ignition zone. View the Protecting Your Home page to see a list of items that can be done now to protect your home during a wildfire event. Most can be done at little or no expense. Print out the list and check off the items that your home already complies with, and then set a plan to complete the remaining items. You can also receive a free no obligation review of your home by calling Rick McDonald at 541-450-6212 or sending Rick an email.
Many outside fires in Oregon are caused by improper debris burning or sparks from power equipment use.
Read the Yard Debris Removal & Equipment Use - Fire Safety brochure for tips on how to safely dispose of your yard debris.
Recreational fires (for cooking or recreational purposes only) are allowed in the City of Grants Pass provided the rules and regulations on the linked pamphlet are followed.
Recreational Fire Guidelines