Home Ignition Zones and Defensible Space

Creating and maintaining defensible space is crucial to improve your home’s chance of surviving a wildfire event. This is the buffer you create between a structure on your property and the grass, trees, shrubs, or wildland areas that surround it. This space, when maintained properly, will slow or stop the spread of wildfire and protects your home from catching fire. Defensible space is also important for the protection of the firefighters defending your home.

The concept of the home ignition zone was developed by retired USDA Forest Service fire scientist Jack Cohen in the late 1990s, following some breakthrough experimental research into how homes ignite due to the effects of radiant heat. The Home Ignition Zone (HIZ) is divided into three zones.



Immediate Zone

The immediate zone consists of the home itself and the area 0-5 feet from the furthest attached point of the home. This should be a non-combustible area void of flammable materials.

Intermediate Zone

The intermediate zone is the area 5-30 feet from the furthest exterior point of the home. Within this area, careful landscaping and creating breaks in the vegetation can help influence and decrease fire behavior.

Extended Zone

The extended zone is the area 30-100 feet, out to 200 feet from the furthest exterior point of the home. This area should interrupt the fire’s path and keep flames small and on the ground.


Check out this video from the Holcombe Road Fire in 2020. The home survived due to homeowner actions and creating defensible space.



For more information, visit NFPA’s Preparing Homes for Wildfire website: https://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/Fire-causes-and-risks/Wildfire/Preparing-homes-for-wildfire


Improving Access for Emergency Responders

A quick response to a wildfire is critical for saving your home. Firefighting personnel must be able to quickly locate and safely travel to your home. Emergency responders may not be familiar with your community, so highly visible signs are important to help them find their way.

You must also remember that fire trucks are larger and heavier than normal vehicles, it is essential that all access lanes are wide enough, have proper clearance and can support the weight of fire vehicles. Here are a few tips to help improve access to your property:

Street Signs



Whether you live in a community with poorly labeled streets or at the end of a long dead end road, making sure emergency personnel can quickly locate and get to your home can increase your home’s chance of survival during a wildfire.



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