Family & Home

You can increase your home’s survival rate during a wildfire by making the right decisions now about landscaping and home construction. Making this positive impact doesn’t need to cost a lot of money or time, just effort and commitment. It is up to you.

A wildfire is still a threat, even if it’s miles away. Traveling embers can ignite roofs, lawn chairs, decks, fences, mulch, pine needles, and other common items around your house and yard. Cleaning your property of debris and maintaining your landscaping reduces the likelihood of ignition. Consider everyday preparedness actions to make your home and property safer from wildfire, such as creating a “fuel-free” area within five feet of your home’s foundation, moving firewood stacks and propane tanks away from your house or shed, and disposing of lawn cuttings. 

Make sure your home is prepared for wildfire
Resources on this page provide more thorough tips to identify your wildfire risk so you can be prepared. Also contact your local fire department, state forestry personnel, or local landscaping groups for more specific information about techniques, materials, procedures, and partnerships.

Success Story: Using Firewise principles to prepare a home for wildfire (Colorado)

Crystal Fire

Ed Brown and his wife Val Hall live west of Fort Collins, Colorado on the edge of Roosevelt National Forest. The couple has used Firewise principles ever since constructing their home in 1997. Firewise is a national program developed by the NFPA that educates homeowners about wildfire risk and advocates principles designed to reduce that risk, including: the creation of defensible space around the home and its surrounding landscape (known as the “Home Ignition Zone”), the use of fire resistant building materials, the maintenance of fire resistant landscaping, and the creation of an evacuation plan.

Ed Brown and Val Hall took these principles to heart. According to Val “we have been Firewise for years, ever since building next to Roosevelt National Forest. We have a metal roof, tree branches trimmed up to 20’ off the ground and an area around the house that has been grazed by goats.”

These principles were put to the test on April 2, 2011 when the Crystal Mountain Wildfire burned towards their home. That night, 80 mph gusts blew the fire into their community prompting the couple and their neighbors to evacuate. The following day they returned to find their home standing in an un-charred patch of land. Unfortunately, many of the neighboring homes were destroyed in the blaze. Val said that following Firewise principles “saved our home, along with a bit of luck.”

Story sources: Firewise Communities “The How-To Newsletter,” Summer 2011
Photo credit: Val Hall
Photo caption: Firewise principles successfully saved this home during a 2011 wildfire.

Family and Home