PROTECT YOUR HOME FROM WILDFIRE
Don’t cut down trees & forests.
Make your house “ignition resistant.”
Although it may seem counter-intuitive, the best way to protect your home from wildfire isn’t by cutting down nearby trees or forests. Nor will “thinning” forests — cutting down 20-70% of the trees — beyond 50-100 ft. from your house offer much protection, since this dries out a forest, increases the likelihood of ignition, and increases the severity of wind-driven fires.)
Instead, read your property from the home, outward. Simple preparations can dramatically decrease the chances your house will not ignite in a nearby wildland fire.
Most houses catch fire not from contact with direct flames, but from showers of embers, or “firebrands,” which land on or near your house.
The many resources on this page have been proven to be effective and are recommended by federal, state and county fire agencies. They are the result of decades of extensive research which have proven their effectiveness.
CRUCIAL VIDEO: Ph.D. fire scientist Jack Cohen, with a decades-long career with the US Forest Service.
Cohen explains how to make your house safer from wildfire. Especially if you live in a dryer region of the U.S. — including California, Arizona, Nevada — which are increasingly prone to wildfire in our hotter, dryer climate.
HOW TO to make your house “Ignition Resistant.”
• FireSafe Marin — Harden Your Home
LEARN MORE: https://firesafemarin.org/harden-your-home/
• NFPA Firewise USA® — “Preparing homes for wildfire”
What are the primary threats to homes during a wildfire?
Research about home destruction vs. home survival in wildfires indicate embers and small flames are the primary way the majority of homes ignite in a wildfire. Embers are burning pieces of airborne wood and/or vegetation that can be carried over a mile by the wind. They cause spot fires and ignite homes, debris and other objects.
There are methods for homeowners to prepare their homes to withstand ember attacks and minimize the likelihood of flames or surface fire touching the home or any attachments. Experiments, models and post-fire studies have shown homes ignite due to the condition of the home and everything around it, up to 200’ from the foundation. This is called the Home Ignition Zone (HIZ).
The forest-altering approach has failed to keep the public safe. Instead, it mainly produces stumps, depleted budgets, and excuses. After each failure, logging proponents conveniently claim that things will be different if they get more money for more cutting. Yet, we now see the fires burning readily in places where they have already done lots of cutting. In fact, some of the fastest and most intense fire spread is occurring in these cut areas (see pg. 12).
Beyond being ineffective and even counterproductive, the forest-altering approach puts more carbon into the atmosphere (see pgs. 13-15) and more pollution in vulnerable communities (see pg. 15).
And perhaps the biggest harm from the forest-altering approach is that it diverts attention and resources away from real solutions, such as fire-safety home retrofits that genuinely protect communities during inevitable wildfires.
VIDEO: “The Fire Paradox”: “The more we try to remove fire, the worse we make it.” – With Mark Finny & Jack Cohen, research forester with the U.S. Forest Service.
Wildfire is a powerful, necessary and, unavoidable component of a healthy, natural forest ecosystem. We have a complex relationship with this force of nature, especially now with wildland fires near houses, towns and cities that have encroached on dwindling forests and open space.