Fire Clearance During the Central Coast of California Drought

By David Brown,
I.S.A. Certified Arborist # WE-7992A

Fire Clearance is one of the most important things we do here at ACE Tree, and we’re very good at it.  Now remember, some of the fire fuel that encourages and helps a fire spread is in the dead trees and shrubs on and around our properties and identifying problem areas and taking care of them is what we do best.  Clearing this brush is for the safety of the property and residents as well as for the safety of the firefighters as they would be working around your home during the times of a real fire.  Firefighters are working harder than ever, and the chances are greater this year than any other in our lifetime that they could be in YOUR neighborhood working against a real fire. 

Here’s the link to the informative Cal-Fire Brochure that will lay out and help a homeowner decide what their priorities should be.    http://calfire.ca.gov/communications/downloads/fact_sheets/2007DefSpaceBrochure.pdf 

Print yourself out a copy; it is a good pamphlet with lots of good information and pictures regarding the California laws concerning fire fuel clearance for property owners.  

Two of the most important guidelines from the pamphlet are: 

  1. Create a Lean, Clean and Green Zone:Remove all flammable vegetation and any dead or dying plants within 30 feet of each building or structure. You may keep single trees or other vegetation that are trimmed of all dead and dying foliage and are well pruned and maintained.  
  2. Decrease Fuel in the Reduced Fuel Zone:Surface litter consists of fallen leaves, needles, twigs, bark, cones, pods, small branches, etc. Remove loose surface litter so it does not exceed a depth of three inches. Make It Safe: Logs, Stumps and Snags • All logs and stumps should be removed unless they are embedded in the soil. If you keep an embedded log, remove nearby vegetation. • A standing dead tree (snag) may be kept for wildlife providing there is only one snag per acre, and if the snag were to fall, it would not reach buildings or structures and would not land on roadways or driveways. 

The most basic guideline for those that do not have time to read the pamphlet is this: 

California law (PRC 4291) requires property owners and/or occupants to create 100 feet of DEFENSIBLE SPACE around homes and buildings. 

This is YOUR responsibility and not the Fire Department.  Please ask us for help if you are not able to do the work yourself.  We are here to do this kind of work for you! 

**And finally, this paragraph is for people who have a significant group trees on their property 

Defensible Space with Continuous Tree Canopy To achieve Defensible Space while keeping a larger stand of trees with a continuous tree canopy, adhere to the guidelines below:  

  • Prune lower branches of trees to a height of six to 15 feet from the top of the vegetation below (or the lower 1/3 of branches for small trees). Properties with greater fire potential such as steeper slopes or more severe fire danger will require pruning heights in the upper end of this range.
  • Remove all ground fuels greater than four inches in height. Single specimens of trees or other vegetation may be kept if they are well-spaced, well-pruned and create an overall condition that avoids the spread of fire to other vegetation or to structures.

We encourage you to get an estimate to have this work done at your property.  We are insured, competent and licensed to do this for you. 

Enjoy your summer knowing you’ve done what you can for your property and your loved ones during the fire season!