Defensible space refers to the area between a house and the reduction of the surrounding fuel sources to reduce the threat of destruction to the house from a wildfire. This is especially important in the high fire areas of the Hayward hills and Fairview.
The Hayward Fire Department hosts annual workshops to educate the community about defensible space and other ways they can protect their property from wildfires.
The 2021 series of workshops will cover the following topics.
Defensible Space is your property’s front line defense against wildfire. Creating and maintaining defensible space around your home can dramatically increase your home’s chance of surviving a wildfire and improves the safety of firefighters defending your property. 100 feet of defensible space is required by law.
This space is needed to slow or stop the spread of wildfire and it helps protect your home from catching fire—either from direct flame contact or radiant heat. Defensible space is also important for the protection of the firefighters defending your home.
Keep your property lean, clean and green.
Two zones make up the required 100 feet of defensible space:
Property owners have a year-round responsibility to maintain defensible space on their property. Effective fire prevention measures can keep fires from starting and reduce hazards that threaten yours and your neighbors’ property.
To create and maintain your 100 feet of defensible space follow these simple steps:
ZONE 1: 30 feet of Lean, Clean & Green
ZONE 2: 30–100 feet of Reduced Fuel 4
If you live in a high fire or wildland area, all equipment must be used with extreme caution. Lawn mowers, metal-bladed trimmers, chain saws, grinders, welders, and tractors can all start a wildland fire if not used properly.
Mowing: Metal blades striking rocks can create sparks and start fires in dry grass. Use caution. Remember, it is always best to mow before 10 a.m., and never on a hot or windy day. String trimmers are a safer option (vs. lawnmowers) for clearing vegetation.
Spark Arresters: In wildland areas, spark arresters are required on all portable, gasoline-powered equipment. This includes tractors, harvesters, chainsaws, vegetation-trimmers and mowers.
Keep the exhaust system, spark arresters and mower in proper working order and free of carbon buildup.
Use the recommended grade of fuel, and don’t top it off.
The spacing between grass, shrubs, and trees is crucial to reduce the spread of wildfire. The spacing needed is determined by the type and size of the shrubs and trees, as well as the slope of the land. For example, a property on a steep slope with larger plant life will require greater spacing between trees and shrubs than a level property that has small, sparse vegetation.
VERTICAL SPACING: Lack of vertical space can allow a fire to move from the ground to the shrubs to the treetops like a ladder.
Remove all tree branches at least 6 feet from the ground. If shrubs are under trees, additional vertical space is needed between the top of the shrub and the lowest tree branch. The space between the top of the shrub and the lowest branches of the tree should be 3 time the height of the shrub.
For example, a five foot shrub is growing near a tree: 3×5 feet = 15 feet of clearance needed between the top of the shrub and the lowest tree branch.
HORIZONTAL SPACING: depends on the slope of the land and the height of the shrubs or trees.
FIRE-RESISTANT LANDSCAPING: uses fire-resistant plants that are strategically planted to resist the spread of fire to your home. Fire resistant plants are great in California because they are often drought tolerant, too.
Check your local nursery, landscape contractor or county’s UC Cooperative Extension service for advice on fire-resistant plants that are suited for your area.