Creating Wildfire - Defensible Space:
Fire is capricious. It can find the weak link in your home's fire protection scheme and gain the upper hand because of a small, overlooked or seemingly insignificant factor. While you many not be able to accomplish all measures below, each will increase your home's and, possibly your family's safety.

Start with the easiest and least expensive actions. Begin your work closest to your house and move outward. Keep working on the more difficult items until you have completed your entire project.

  Defensible Space  
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Two factors have emerged as the primary determinants of a home's ability to survive wildfire. These are the home's roofing material and the quality of the "defensible space" surrounding it.

Use fire-resistive materials (Class B or better rating, preferably Class A), not wood or shake shingles, to roof homes in or near forests and grasslands. When your roof needs significant repairs or replacement, do so with a fire-resistant roofing material.

Defensible space is an area around a structure where fuels and vegetation are treated, cleared or reduced to slow the spread of wildfire towards the structure. It also reduces the chance of a structure fire moving from the building to the surrounding forest. Defensible space provides room for the firefighters to do their jobs. Your house is more likely to withstand a wildfire if grasses, brush, trees and other common forest fuels are managed to reduce a fire's intensity.

Creating an effective defensible space involves developing a series of management zones in which different treatment techniques are used. Develop defensible space around each building on your property. Include detached garages, storage buildings, barns and other structures in your plan.

The actual design and development of your defensible space depends on several factors:

  • size and shape of buildings
  • materials used in their construction
  • slope of the ground on which structures are built
  • surrounding topography
  • sizes and types of vegetation on your property
These factors all affect your design. You may want to request additional guidance from your local New Mexico State Forestry office or fire department. Defensible space can be divided into three zones. Treatments for each of the three defensible space zones are discussed below.

State Forestry District Offices

Chama(505) 588-7831
Cimarron(505) 376-2204
Socorro(505) 835-9359
Las Vegas(505) 425-7472
Capitan(505) 354-2231
Bernalillo(505) 867-2334

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