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Preparing for wildfire starts with readying your property and following Ready, Set, Go guidelines. The safety of the public and our wildland firefighters is our highest priority. We want to make it easy to find the information you need in one place. Select the different tabs to find details.


The Risks

Not preparing for possible evacuations can put your safety at risk. We have the information you need for inside and outside your home.

Evacuation Checklist

When an evacuation is anticipated, follow these checklists (if time allows) to give your home the best chance of surviving a wildfire.

Information provided by Ready for Wildfire.

Inside the House

  • Have your Emergency Supply Kit/Evacuation Bag ready to go
  • Ensure a Wildfire Action Plan is prepared ahead of time
  • Make sure you know your community’s emergency response plan and have a plan on where to go when it is time to evacuate, and best routes for leaving your location.
  • Shut all windows and doors, leaving them unlocked.
  • Remove flammable window shades, curtains and close metal shutters.
  • Remove lightweight curtains.
  • Move flammable furniture to the center of the room, away from windows and doors.
  • Shut off gas at the meter; turn off pilot lights.
  • Leave your lights on so firefighters can see your house under smoky conditions.
  • Shut off the air conditioning.


  • Gather up flammable items from the exterior of the house and bring them inside (patio furniture, children’s toys, door mats, trash cans, etc.) or place them in your pool.
  • Turn off propane tanks.
  • Move propane BBQ appliances away from structures.
  • Connect garden hoses to outside water valves or spigots for use by firefighters. Fill water buckets and place them around the house.
  • Don’t leave sprinklers on or water running, they can affect critical water pressure.
  • Leave exterior lights on so your home is visible to firefighters in the smoke or darkness of night.
  • Put your Emergency Supply Kit in your vehicle.
  • Back your car into the driveway with vehicle loaded and all doors and windows closed. Carry your car keys with you.
  • Have a ladder available and place it at the corner of the house for firefighters to quickly access your roof.
  • Seal attic and ground vents with pre-cut plywood or commercial seals.
  • Patrol your property and monitor the fire situation. Don’t wait for an evacuation order if you feel threatened.
  • Check on neighbors and make sure they are preparing to leave.


  • Locate your pets and keep them nearby.
  • Prepare farm animals for transport and think about moving them to a safe location early.

Create Defensible Space

The Risks

Wildland vegetation such as grass, brush, and timber can be extremely combustible. The vegetation can burn with great intensity and produce firebrands and burning embers that can become wind-driven hazards.

Defensible Space Defined

Defensible space is the natural and landscaped area around a structure that is designed and maintained to reduce fire danger. Defensible space is all about minimizing and rearranging fuels. By treating fuels around your home and outbuildings, you influence wildfire behavior, thereby decreasing ignition potential.

Defensible space not only decreases your home’s vulnerability to wildfire, but can provide firefighters a safe environment in which to defend your property. Where homes are close to each other, defensible spaces may overlap to provide added protection for the neighborhood.

Information provided by Idaho Firewise.

Know Your Zones

A minimum defensible space of 100 feet is recommended for homes and outbuildings on flat ground—up to 200 feet or more on sloped sites. Defensible space is commonly divided into three zones.

Defensible space is divided into three zones. Thank you Idaho Firewise for this information.

Zone 1 – Immediate Zone, Your Buildings and the First 5-feet

The Immediate Zone includes both the home and the area 0 to 5 feet out from the furthest attached exterior point of the home.

In Zone 1, take steps to eliminate ignition potential. Use gravel mulch in this zone and use only the most fire resistant plant material – e.g. short, high moisture content plants such as flowering annuals or perennial succulents hardy to your USDA zone. The home itself should be constructed using ignition resistant building materials. Screen any openings with 1/8″ metal mesh to block embers from collecting inside the home or under decks. Be aware of anything that could be flammable in this zone such as leaf litter, dead vegetation, pine needles, even items such as a possibly flammable doormat or hanging baskets made from fibrous material.

Zone 2 – Intermediate Zone, From 5- to 30-feet (Clean and Green)

Zone 2 should consist of a well-maintained greenbelt. Surround islands of fire resistant plant material with rock or brick retaining walls and/or well-watered turf. Keep lawns mowed to a height of four inches and clear vegetation regularly to keep the landscape ‘lean, clean, and green’. Water plants and lawns appropriately to keep them from becoming dry. Trees and shrubs in this zone should be limited to small clusters to break up the continuity of the vegetation across the landscape. Consider using hardscapes, dry river beds, or water features as a means of beautifying the landscape as well as making it more fire resistant. Tree placement should be planned to ensure the mature canopy is no closer than ten feet to the edge of the structure.

Zone 3 – Extended Zone, From 30- to 100-feet and Beyond (Pruned and Groomed leading to Natural Vegetation)

Keep in mind that your property line may end prior to 100 feet. In these instances working collaboratively with your neighbor is important in helping to protect multiple properties.

In Zone 3, remove highly flammable vegetation and replace it with fire resistant species. Maintain Zone 3 by thinning and pruning, removing dead and dying plants, and periodic fertilization and irrigation, as needed. Place firewood and propane tanks on gravel or concrete pads at least 30-feet away from structures and surround them with non-flammable fencing. Trees 30-60 feet from the home should have at least 12 feet between canopy tops. Trees 60 to 100 feet from the home should have at least 6 feet between canopy tops.

For more information on hardening your home, refer to the NFPA publication Reducing Wildfire Risks in the Home Ignition Zone.

A defensible space is an area around a building in which vegetation, debris, and other types of
combustible fuels have been treated, cleared, or reduced to slow the spread of fire to and from
the building. Information about local vegetation, weather, and topography is used to determine
the Fire Severity Zone of an area, which can help determine the most effective design of a
defensible space.
A defensible space is one of the most cost-effective ways to protect a building from a wildfire and
can often be created by the property owner.

Zone 1
• Eliminate all combustible materials in Zone 1 (within 30 feet of the home) such as fire-prone
vegetation, firewood stacks, combustible patio furniture, umbrellas, and dimensioned lumber
decking (see Figure 4). Desirable substitutions include irrigated grass, rock gardens, stone
patios, metal patio furniture, and noncombustible decking (see Fact Sheet #13, Decks and
Other Attached Structures).
• Before fire season begins, remove combustible litter on roofs and gutters and trim tree
branches that overhang the roof and chimney (see Fact Sheet #9, Gutters).
Zone 2
• Ensure that Zone 2 includes only individual and well-spaced clumps of trees and shrubs
and/or a few islands of vegetation that are surrounded by areas with noncombustible
Figure 2. Combustible materials adjacent to a
building create a hazard (Anchor Point Group,
Boulder, CO).
Page 2 of 4 09/08 Home Builder’s Guide to Construction in Wildfire Zones FS No. 4 – Defensible Space

Zone 2: Prune and remove dead an.d
dying bra ndhes from individual and
well-spac@d clumps ohrees and shrubs
Zone 1: Remove -combucStible litt r on
roofs and guners and trim tree branches
that overhang the roof and chimney
Zon.e 2: ~lace woodpiles at lea,st
30·feet from the building and store
the wood in a vegetation-free
such as a graveled area 1; Eliminate all
Zone 3: Reduce fuels by
thinni11.9 and pruning
vegeta,tiion horizonta11¥
nd V rtically
Figure 3. The three concentric zones of defensible space.
• Use hardscape features such as driveways and paved or gravel walkways or patios to create
firebreaks throughout the yard.
• Plant fire-resistant, low-volume vegetation that retains moisture well and needs minimum
maintenance such as pruning and removing dead and dying branches.
• Separate auxiliary structures such as a detached garage, pump house, pergola, and utility shed
from the home by at least 50 feet. Increase the distance if the structure is used for the storage
of combustible materials.
• Comply with recommended construction practices related to fire resistance for auxiliary
structures. See Fact Sheets #5 to #16 for guidance on planning and designing a structure in a
wildfire zone.
• Ensure that patio furniture is either made of
noncombustible material such as metal or is
at least 30 feet away from the building. Store
patio furniture in a location that is protected
from ignition by a wildfire.
• Place woodpiles at least 30 feet from the
building and store the wood in a vegetationfree zone such as a graveled area.
• Store fuel tanks away from a structure at the
minimum distance that is required by code
or greater (see Fact Sheet #16, Utilities) and
place underground or on a noncombustible
Figure 4. A noncombustible ground cover in Zone 1
helped this home survive a wildfire (Anchor Point
Group, Boulder, CO).
FS No. 4 – Defensible Space Home Builder’s Guide to Construction in Wildfire Zones 09/08 Page 3 of 4

Zone 3
Reduce fuels that are farther than 100 feet from the building by thinning and pruning vegetation
horizontally and vertically as discussed above. Thinning and pruning in Zone 3 can be more
limited than in Zone 2. The goals in Zone 3 are to improve the health of the wildlands and help
slow an approaching wildfire. Zone 3 is also an aesthetic transition between the more heavily
modified Zone 2 and the unmodified surroundings

A defensible space is an area around a building in which vegetation, debris, and other types of
combustible fuels have been treated, cleared, or reduced to slow the spread of fire to and from
the building. Information about local vegetation, weather, and topography is used to determine
the Fire Severity Zone of an area, which can help determine the most effective design of a
defensible space.
A defensible space is one of the most cost-effective ways to protect a building from a wildfire and
can often be created by the property owner.

Thank you FEMA for this information.

Ready, Set, Go

The Risks
2020 NIFC Engines

Successfully preparing for a wildfire requires you to take personal
responsibility for protecting yourself, your family and your property.


Being ready for wildfire starts with maintaining an adequate defensible space and by hardening your home by using fire resistant building materials.

Defensible space is the buffer you create by removing dead plants, grass and weeds. This buffer helps to keep the fire away from your home.

Hardening your home means using construction materials that can help your home withstand flying embers finding weak spots in the construction, which can result in your house catching fire. It takes the combination of both defensible space and the hardening of your home to really give your house the best chance of surviving a wildfire.

Thank you Ready for Wildfire for this information.


Before wildfire strikes, it is important that you get set. Prepare yourself and your home for the possibility of having to evacuate. Getting set requires three main preparation actions that should be completed and familiar to all members of your household long in advance of a wildfire.

Thank you Ready for Wildfire for this information.

3 Steps to Getting Set:

  1. Create a Wildfire Action Plan that includes evacuation planning for your home, family and pets.
  2. Assemble an Emergency Supply Kit for each person in your household.
  3. Fill-out a Family Communication Plan that includes important evacuation and contact information.

When immediate evacuation is necessary, follow these steps as soon as possible to get ready to GO! Thank you Ready for Wildfire for this information.

  1. Review your Evacuation Plan Checklist.
  2. Ensure your Emergency Supply Kit/Evacuation Bag is in your vehicle.
  3. Cover-up to protect against heat and flying embers. Wear long pants, long sleeve shirt, heavy shoes/boots, cap, dry bandanna for face cover, goggles or glasses. 100% cotton is preferable.
  4. Locate your pets and take them with you.

Preparing to Go Home

The Risks

Do not return home until authorities say it is safe to do so. Avoid hot ash, charred trees, smoldering debris and live embers. The ground may contain heat pockets that can burn you or spark another fire. When cleaning, wear protective clothing.

Returning Home

Returning Home After a Wildfire

Coming home after a wildfire can be difficult. The damage is often unknown until the homeowner returns days or weeks later. Before returning home ALWAYS check with officials before attempting to return to your home. Once home check for the following:

  • Check grounds for hot spots, smoldering stumps, and vegetation.
  • Check the roof and exterior areas for sparks or embers.
  • Check the attic and throughout your house for any hidden burning sparks or embers.
  • Check for fire damage to your home, turn off all appliances and make sure the meter is not damaged before turning on the main circuit breaker.
  • Check the well or pump-house to ensure it is in working order.
  • Contact 911 if any danger is perceived.
  • Consult local experts on the best way to restore and plant your land with fire-safe landscaping.

Find out more about when Returning Home After a Wildfire. 

Even with these efforts, post fire communities are still at risk and need to be prepared for flood, debris flows, mud (hyperconcentrated) flows, and surface erosion. Here are ways that you can be prepared:

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