Fire officials keep tabs on defensible space | SierraSun.com

Fire officials keep tabs on defensible space

David Bunker
Sierra Sun

Fire officials plan to begin inspecting properties this month to see whether they comply with a new state law that has more than tripled the defensible space requirements around buildings.

The state law on defensible space was amended in January, increasing the space that must be trimmed, cleared and managed for flammable vegetation from 30 feet to 100 feet in unincorporated areas, said Doug Rinella, battalion chief with the California Department of Forestry.

Fire officials will be inspecting structures throughout the summer, enforcing the 30-foot requirement, and advising residents of the newly adopted 100-foot law, said Gene Welch of the Truckee Fire Protection District.

Truckee’s requirement officially still stands at 30 feet, although officials will be advising residents of the new state law and informing them that insurance companies can require a 100-foot area of defensible space in their policies, said Welch.

California Department of Forestry officials plan to go from house to house in subdivisions on Donner Summit ” in Placer County and within unincorporated Nevada County ” inspecting the space around homes.

The new law will be immensely effective in protecting homes from wildland fires, said Rinella.

“The bottom line is defensible space ties in very closely with roofing material as the two most important aspects of defending your house against fire,” he said.

Creating defensible space includes cleaning off roofs and rain gutters, cutting tree limbs around chimneys, and trimming and managing vegetation surrounding a structure. Fire officials suggest a gap of 10 to 15 feet between large shrubs or trees, both horizontally and vertically, and suggest that continuous paths of combustible vegetation be broken up.