Homeowners Can Increase the Survivability of their Home From Wildfire!

Wildfires have burned hundreds of thousands of acres in the United States, forced evacuations, burned structures, and claimed lives. Fire fighting agencies will do all they can in the event of wildfire but can become quickly overwhelmed in a large blaze.

Only you, the homeowner, can guarantee your safety and increase the ability of your home to survive a wildfire. For Texas homeowners, there are many things that can be done during a weekend to increase the survivability of structures. Defensible space generally refers to the area between a structure and an oncoming wildfire in which vegetation and the structure have been modified to reduce the threat of wildfire. Defensible space allows firefighters to operate more safely and efficiently. Some key concepts include vegetative management, increasing structure survivability, and promoting firefighter safety.

Homeowners are responsible for creating defensible space. Waiting until a wildfire threatens your property is too late.


    1. Determine the size of an effective defensible space for your situation – typically 100 to 200 feet radius.

Then within this zone:

    1. Remove all dead vegetation.

    2. Create a separation between trees and scrubs. Thin dense pockets of trees. Try for an average of 10 feet between tree crowns.

    3. Reduce the ladder fuels. Create a 5 to 8 feet vertical separation

between tree branches and ground plants (shrubs and grasses) by pruning trees and or removing shrubs and grasses, and/or small trees.

    1. Create a “LEAN, CLEAN, GREEN” area extending at least 30 feet from structures:

    • Include a 3’ – 5’ noncombustible area around each structure. Remove all combustible material from under decks and porches. [THIS STEP MAY TAKE LESS THAN AN HOUR TO ACCOMPLISH AND COULD MAKE THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE!]

    • Cut dry grass to 3 inches or less

    • Remove tree limbs that are within 10’ of structures.

    1. Maintain steps 2-5 annually or as needed!

    2. Consider seeking professional forestry assistance to thin the forest and shrub lands near your home, outside of 100 feet, to provide more protection and greatly improve the overall health of your land.

    3. Think about helping a neighbor with these projects, if they are interested and unable to do the work themselves. Wild fires do not stop at property lines.

Firewise Communities are a great way to pull neighborhoods together for a common purpose! Wildland fires do not start at a property line! Becoming a Firewise Community develops an awareness of how to mitigate fuels around your home and neighborhood. To read more about developing this positive direction for a community or sub division go to: