How to Have a Firewise Home

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You can make your home safer from wildfire. Learn how with these helpful tips!





Simple fixes from roof to foundation to make yourn home safer from embers and radiant heat.

  • Clean roofs and gutters of dead leaves, debris and pine needles that could catch embers.
  • Replace or repair any loose or missing shingles or roof tiles to prevent ember penetration.
  • Enclose under-eave and soffit vents or screen with metal mesh to prevent ember entry.
  • Cover exterior attic vents with metal wire mesh no larger than 1/8 inch to prevent sparks from entering the home.
  • Repair or replace damaged or loose window screens and any broken windows.
  • Screen or box-in areas below patios and decks with wire mesh to prevent debris and combustible materials from accumulating.
  • Move any flammable material away from wall exteriors – mulch, flammable plants, leaves and needles, firewood piles – anything that can burn.
  • Remove anything stored underneath decks or porches.





Home Ignition Zone
Keep leaves and needles off your roof and deck. Create a fuel free area within 3-5 feet of your home’s perimeter. From 5 feet to a minimum of 30 feet out, thin and space vegetation, remove dead leaves and needles, prune shrubs and tree limbs. Keep areas around decks, sheds, fences and swing sets clear of debris and vegetation.

Landscaping and Firewise Plants
To prevent fire spread, trim back branches that overhang structures and prune branches of large trees up to 6 to 10 feet from the ground. Remove plants containing resins, oils, and waxes; make sure organic mulch is at least 5 feet from structures. Choose Firewise plants – find lists at or from your local Cooperative Extension service.





Disaster Plan
Develop, discuss and practice an emergency action plan with everyone in your home. Include details for pets, large animals and livestock. Program cell phones with emergency numbers. Know two ways out of your neighborhood and have a predesignated meeting place. Have tools such as a shovel, rake, axe, handsaw, or chainsaw available, and maintain an emergency water source. Always leave if you feel unsafe – don’t wait to be notified.

Emergency Responder Access
Identify your home and neighborhood with legible, clearly marked street names and numbers. Make your driveway at least 12 feet wide with a vertical clearance of 15 feet and a slope of less than 5 percent to provide access to emergency vehicles.





Fire-Resistant Roof Construction
Use fire-rated shingles such as asphalt, metal, slate, clay tile or concrete products. A fire-resistant sub-roof adds protection. Box in eaves, but provide adequate ventilation to prevent condensation and mildew. Roof and attic vents should be screened to prevent ember entry.

Fire-Resistant Attachments
Any attachments to your home such as decks, porches, and fences must be fire-resistant. If not, your entire home is vulnerable to ignition.

Fire-Resistant Walls and Windows
Embers can collect in small nooks and crannies and ignite combustible materials; radiant heat from flames can crack windows. Use fire-resistant siding such as brick, fiber-cement, plaster or stucco and tempered or double-paned glass windows to protect your home.

Plants and Landscape

  • Store firewood away from your home
  • Landscape with fire-resistant plants
  • Create fuel breaks
  • Prune any low-hanging tree branches
  • Mow your lawn regularly





For more information about how to protect your home and property, as well as Firewise plant lists and other resources, visit the Firewise website at, and see the “homeowners” section.

For more tips on what to do when wildfire is approaching and how to safely evacuate, visit the Ready, Set, Go! website sponsored by the International Association of Fire Chiefs at Talk to your local fire department to learn more about specific wildfire risks in your area.