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Preparing Property for Wildfire Season

WildfireExperts say as many as 80% of homes lost to wildfires could have been saved if their owners implemented a few simple fire-safe practices. Of the homes that burn in wildfires across our nation each year, over 90% of the losses are attributed to small spot-fires or flying embers that initially ignite the home. Providing defensible space and reducing home ignition hazards are essential elements in creating the best defense against wildfire. Preparing before fire season not only reduces the threat to your property, but also reduces the overall risk to the community surrounding you.

Here are some good rules of thumb for making your property more wildfire resistant:

The Home
  • Have a fire resistant roof (Class A or B is recommended).Shake Roof
  • Remove combustible debris from on top of roof and decks/porches.
  • Clean out rain gutters and consider replacing vinyl gutters with non-combustible gutters.
  • Install screening on vents using corrosion resistant maximum 1/8" grid wire mesh to prevent embers from entering the attic and underfloor areas.
  • Consider installing non-combustible siding, or if not possible, caulk/fill any voids where embers could collect.
  • Clean out combustible debris from under decks and consider installing solid skirting around the bottom of decks.
  • Trim trees to provide a minimum 10’ horizontal clearance to chimneys and any part of the house.Ember Testing (IBHS)
0-5 feet around the Perimeter of the Home
  • Eliminate highly flammable vegetation and other combustible items that wind-blown embers could ignite close to the home (shrubs and trees are not recommended in this zone)
  • Remove any dead vegetation or accumulation of combustible debris
  • Relocate plastic garbage and recycle containers
  • Consider making this a fire-free zone (non-combustible ground covering or concrete)
5-30 feet around the Perimeter of the HomeDefensible Space
  • Maintain green landscaping by ensuring it is watered.
  • Keep weeds and grasses cut to a maximum of 2” high. 
  • Trees and shrubs should be in well spaced groupings and well maintained.
  • Reduce or replace as much as the flammable vegetation as possible with fire resistive vegetation.
  • Eliminate ladder fuels below trees (vegetation below tree crowns that will spread fire up into the tree crown.)Fire Resistant Plants
  • Trees should have a 15’ minimum horizontal spacing between crowns, with the distance of the spacing increasing with an increase in slope.
  • Prune limbs or branches to a minimum height of 15’, or 1/3 the tree height for shorter trees.
  • Relocate propane tanks at least 30’ from the home. Create a defensible space around the tank (at least 10’ clearance to combustible materials).
  • Locate smaller firewood piles at least 30’ from your home.
30-100 feet and beyond the Perimeter of the Home
  • Thin small trees, keep larger ones, and remove dead or fallen trees.
  • Eliminate ladder fuels below trees (vegetation below tree crowns that will spread fire up into the tree crown.)
  • Locate large firewood piles a minimum of 100’ and uphill from your home.Ladder Fuels
  • If you live on a slope or hill, you may need to double or even triple this safety zone.
Take the Wildfire Preparedness 30-Day Challenge. Click here.
Additional Department Information

Fire and Life Safety Department Contacts

Medford Fire-Rescue Fire & Life Safety Division
200 South Ivy Street, Room #180
Medford, OR 97501
Phone: (541) 774-2300
Fax: (541) 774-2514
Contact: Deputy Chief - Fire Marshal Greg Kleinberg
Hours: Mon - Fri, 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

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