WUI Lesson 4: The new NFPA goals for the home ignition zone.
The first 0-5 ft.: Critical to surviving wildfire
The next 5-30 ft.: Stop the fire from burning close to the structure
The next 20-100+ ft.: Reduce the energy created by the fire
The structure itself tends to be more ignitable that trees, even pines. Once it ignites, it becomes the major source of flying firebrands and toxic gases to downwind properties. The underlying principle is to make it resistant to embers.
Mother Nature’s way of managing vegetation is frequent fast moving fire that burns off surface fuels while preserving large trees and the ecosystem. Efficient suppression of wildfires and timber harvesting have resulted in many forests being ruined because intense fires feeding on the robust undergrowth destroyed the soil itself and large trees that take hundreds or even thousands of years to return.
So act like nature. Prevent fire end embers from coming right up to your house and fence by getting surface fuels, including ignitable mulches, up and off the ground. Limit the fire to a fast moving one that does not lead to sustained heat. Every plant can burn, but reducing the heat a plant is exposed to helps.
Year round maintenance of the established fire safe area is crucial.
Next: The importance of making a structure resistant to embers.