Defensible Space – Protecting Against Wildfire

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Proper defensible space is achieved by reducing fire-carrying fuels in a 90-foot perimeter around a structure. How much fuel should be removed depends on the current fuel type, fuel load, slope, and predominant wind directions. We can help you identify these factors and guide you in the right direction towards a more defensible mountain property. Benefits of doing so include:

  • Peace of mind during heavy wildfire years
  • Increased safety for firefighters
  • Improved forest health, which is more naturally resistant to insect and disease outbreaks
  • Enhanced aesthetics of your property
  • Increased property value
  • Better chance of receiving homeowners insurance and keeping premiums low
  • Government grant opportunities in many cases

Defensible Space

There are a number of different steps that are involved in creating defensible space, which include:

Reducing Ground and Ladder Fuels:  Ladder fuels are fuels that allow a fire to carry from the ground into the canopy of the surrounding trees. These include low hanging branches and tall grass and brush. Limbing trees to a height of six feet and removing tall grass and brush will ensure a wildfire remains on the ground where firefighters can effectively fight it.


Increasing Crown Spacing:  Crown spacing is described as the amount of room between the tops of trees. Increasing this spacing through selective thinning reduces the chances of a high intensity wildfire reaching your mountain home. The goal is to bring the fire from the tops of the trees down onto the ground where firefighters can effectively extinguish it. Opening up the forest canopy breaks the fuel continuity, reducing the fire carrying potential.


Planting Fire-Resistant Vegetation:  Many plant species are more naturally resistant to wildfire than others. Replacing removed vegetation with these species improves the aesthetics of the property while improving the health of your forest. TigerTree can help you decide which species will grow best in your location.


Creating Fuel Breaks:  Fuel breaks are generally implemented on larger-acre properties or used to protect an entire community. A fuel break can be described as a buffer zone around a property that has been cleared of flammable vegetation.

Fuel Break

Addressing Other Areas of Concern:  Chimneys, decks, wood piles and propane tanks are all areas that require some special attention. Branches and trees should be cleared to a distance of 15 feet away from chimneys and propane tanks. Firewood should be stacked and stored at least 30 feet away from structures. Roofs, rain gutters, and decks should be kept free of branches, needles and leaves. Metal or asphalt shingle roofs are more fire resistant than shake shingles.

Firewood Under Deck

Creating a Community Wildfire Protection Plan:  Community involvement is critical in planning and developing a well laid out strategy for keeping a mountain community safe from wildfire. Many local firefighting and government agencies encourage or require communities to develop these wildfire protection plans. TigerTree can help your community plan and implement the program that’s right for your community.