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Defensible Space

Defensible Space

Defensible space is essential to improve your home’s chance of surviving a wildfire. It’s the buffer you create between a building on your property and the grass, trees, shrubs, or any wildland area that surround it.  

Home Ignition Zone 

The home ignition Zone extends 0-10' from your house.  It's the area closest to your house, including plants, decks, outdoor furniture, and the outside walls and coverings.  This area is most vulnerable and should be most

aggressively maintained for fire resistance.


  • Remove any combustible outdoor furniture.  

  • Replace jute or fiber doormats with fire-resistant materials.

  • Clean all fallen leaves and needles regularly.  Repeat often during fire season.

  • Remove ALL fire-prone plants, and choose only fire-resistant varieties.  Irrigate regularly. 

  • Remove tree limbs that extend into this zone.  Fire-prone trees should be aggressively pruned or ideally, removed.

  • Provide adequate spacing between all plants.

  • Do not store firewood, lumber, or combustibles here, even (especially) under decks or overhangs.  Move stored combustibles inside, or at least 30' away from structures.

  • Use only fire resistant mulches.  'Gorilla Hair" or similar shredded bark should be removed in this zone.  Composted mulch and large bark and chips may be OK.

Home Defense Zone

This extends 30 feet* out from buildings, structures, decks, etc.


  • Remove all dead plants, grass, and weeds (vegetation).

  • Remove dead or dry leaves and pine needles from your yard, roof and rain gutters.

  • Trim trees regularly to keep branches a minimum of 10 feet from other trees.

  • Remove branches that hang over your roof and keep dead branches 10 feet away from your chimney.

  • Relocate wood piles into Zone 2.

  • Remove or prune flammable plants and shrubs near windows.

  • Remove vegetation and items that could catch fire from around and under decks.

  • Create additional separation between trees, shrubs, and items that could catch fire, such as patio furniture, wood piles, swing sets, etc.

Reduced Fuel Zone

Extending from 30'-100' (or more, if required due to steep slopes, nearby vegetation conditions, and/or your local fire department), this zone should include at a minimum:

  • Cut or mow annual grass down to a maximum height of 4 inches.

  • Create horizontal spacing between shrubs and trees. (See diagram)

  • Create vertical spacing between grass, shrubs and trees. (See diagram)

  • Remove fallen leaves, needles, twigs, bark, cones, and small branches. However, they may be permitted to a depth of 3 inches if erosion control is an issue.

The Importance of Roadway Clearance 


Lake Wenatchee Fire & Rescue operates specialized fire apparatus that helps us navigate the narrow streets and driveways of our community.  Even with our state-of-the-art fire engines, we depend on roadways clear of obstructions and overgrown vegetation to access your neighborhood safely and quickly during emergencies.  Cooperation and involvement from homeowners in each neighborhood are critical to prevent obstructions, like illegally parked cars and overgrown vegetation, that impede our access and your safe escape in the event of a wildfire.  Your survival during a fast-spreading wildfire may depend on vegetation clearance work finished months earlier.

Hardening Your Home Tips


Flying embers can destroy homes up to a mile from a wildfire. “Harden” your home now before a fire starts by using ember-resistant building materials.

Here are some things you can do to harden your home and make it more fire resistant.

The roof is the most vulnerable part of your home. Homes with wood or shingle roofs are at high risk of being destroyed during a wildfire. Build your roof or re-roof with materials such as composition, metal or tile. Block any spaces between the roof decking and covering to prevent embers from catching.

Vents on homes create openings for flying embers.

  • Cover all vent openings with 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch metal mesh. Do not use fiberglass or plastic mesh because they can melt and burn.

  • Protect vents in eaves or cornices with baffles to block embers (mesh is not enough).


Eaves and Soffits
Eaves and soffits should be protected with ignition-resistant* or non-combustible materials.

Heat from a wildfire can cause windows to break even before the home ignites. This allows burning embers to enter and start fires inside. Single-paned and large windows are particularly vulnerable.

  • Install dual-paned windows with one pane of tempered glass to reduce the chance of breakage in a fire.

  • Consider limiting the size and number of windows that face large areas of vegetation.


Wood products, such as boards, panels or shingles, are common siding materials. However, they are combustible and not good choices for fire-prone areas.

  • Build or remodel your walls with ignition resistant* building materials, such as stucco, fiber cement, wall siding, fire retardant, treated wood, or other approved materials.

  • Be sure to extend materials from the foundation to the roof.



Surfaces within 10 feet of the building should be built with ignition-resistant, non-combustible, or other approved materials.

  • Ensure that all combustible items are removed from underneath your deck.


Rain Gutters
Screen or enclose rain gutters to prevent accumulation of plant debris.

Patio Cover
Use the same ignition-resistant* materials for patio coverings as a roof.

Cover your chimney and stovepipe outlets with a non-combustible screen. Use metal screen material with openings no smaller than 3/8-inch and no larger than 1/2-inch to prevent embers from escaping and igniting a fire.

Have a fire extinguisher and tools such as a shovel, rake, bucket, and hoe available for fire emergencies.

  • Install weather stripping around and under the garage door to prevent embers from blowing in.

  • Store all combustible and flammable liquids away from ignition sources.


Consider using ignition-resistant* or non-combustible fence materials to protect your home during a wildfire.

Driveways and Access Roads
Driveways should be built and maintained in accordance with state and local codes to allow fire and emergency vehicles to reach your home. Consider maintaining access roads with a minimum of 10 feet of clearance on either side, allowing for two-way traffic.

  • Ensure that all gates open inward and are wide enough to accommodate emergency equipment.

  • Trim trees and shrubs overhanging the road to allow emergency vehicles to pass.


Make sure your address is clearly visible from the road.

Water Supply
Consider having multiple garden hoses that are long enough to reach all areas of your home and other structures on your property. If you have a pool or well, consider getting a pump.

Be Ember Aware

Flying embers also known as "firebrands" are carried by the wind and can rain down onto your home.

Some places that embers can ignite are:

  • Roofs

  • Gutters

  • Vents

  • Nooks & Crannies

  • Corners of Home - Porches & Insets

  • Dry Fuels Around Home

  • Wood Piles Near Home

  • Dormers

  • Deck & Porch

  • Exterior Crawl Spaces

  • Patio Furniture Cushions


To prevent embers from igniting your home, there are some preventative measures to keep your home safe.

1.  Keep a defensible space by clearing ignitable fuels such as dense vegetation and pine needles. 


2. Have combustible fuel sources such as wood piles, propane tanks, and furniture cushions away from your home. 


3. Clear out pine needles, leaves, and other debris from gutters and roofs. 

4. Covering vents with 1/8 inch wire mesh or installing ember resistant vents. 

5. Request a Home Ignition Zone Evaluation.

Additional Resources

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