One of the most common questions we receive is, what is defensible space?  This topic comes up frequently in the wake of the various Southern California wildfires.  This article explains what defensible space is and how you can mitigate wildfire impact and save not only your home, but the lives as well.

Defensible space can be thought of as a fire break around the property that helps to inhibit the spread of fire in populated regions.  The area around a property that is cleared of over grown and dead vegetation and combustible material and chemicals is commonly referred to as defensible space.  Defensible space can prove vital in protecting a structure from devastation during a wildfire.

Purpose of defensible space:

  1. The primary aim of providing defensible space around a structure is to reduce the amount of potential fuel that can allow for the spread of wildfire to the structure. Even in extreme wildfire conditions, the defensible space can slow the spread of fire, allowing first responders the time to respond and occupants the time needed to get out.  When it comes to a wildfire, every second counts.
  2. Adequate defensible space provides firefighters and first responders a staging area where they can position fire trucks and other equipment necessary for assessment and firefighting operations.
  3. If there is a pond on the property, firefighters can utilize the water to refill a fire truck’s water supply tank. The surrounding perimeter of the pond should be kept clear of trees and vegetation to remain accessible by firefighting personnel during a wildfire.

How much defensible space do I need?

The San Diego County department of Planning and Development recommends a defensible space of a 100 foot radius around any structure. Local authorities may request more defensible space be cleared and will contact you on an individual basis if this is the case where you live.  This is to ensure that the defensible space will provide an adequate barrier to prevent the spread of wildfire and protect life and property.

For further information regarding defensible space, including recommendations for vegetation, irrigation, and additional tips on maintaining your defensible space, please visit the San Diego County department of Planning and Development website.

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