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Defensible Space

Defensible Space is the most effective way for property owners to protect their buildings, and sometimes their lives, against the devastation caused by catastrophic wildfires. It is highly unlikely that there will be a fire engine available to defend your home against a wildfire, and even if an engine is available, they will probably withdraw as the fire approaches leaving your home to fend for itself. After the fire has passed and if fire crews and engines are available, they will try to return to extinguish any detectable fires. If there are not enough fire crews and engines available they will probably concentrate their efforts on homes that they can save, which means homes that have Defensible Space.

California law now requires 100 feet of Defensible Space around a home. Defensible Space does not mean a paved parking lot. It means that the home design and construction, building materials and surrounding vegetation do not contribute to the intensity of the fire.

Defensible Space

Landscaping around structures should consist of fire resistant plants. Unfortunately in our area most fire resistant plants are not drought tolerant which means that most native plants are not suitable unless they are kept very low to the ground and are not planted up against the structure. Fire resistant plants also tend to consume more water than native plants.

Design and construction materials are also a critical part of Defensible Space. Eaves should be boxed in and vents should be screened with metal screening with 1/8" openings. Roofing should be Class A and siding should be fire resistant.

The LVFPD has developed an expertise in site characterization and provides a full suite of technical services related to field investigations including soil and vegetation analysis. The LVFPD has become a leader in fuel reduction services on sensitive lands in the Lake Tahoe Basin (LTB).

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is a Defensible Space Inspection?

* California law (Public Resource Code 4291) requires 100 feet of Defensible Space around a home. A homeowner's clearing responsibility is limited to 100 feet away from the structure or to the property line, whichever is less, and limited to their land.
* This includes home design, building materials and surrounding vegetation.
* These inspections are intended to assist homeowners and property owners to protect their properties and their neighborhoods from the threat of spreading wildfire; and to assist you in bringing the property into compliance with the Public Resource Code 4291.
* Lake Valley Fire Protection District offers a free inspection with a trained fire protection professional to evaluate your property.

Does the homeowner need to be present?

* YES, it is required that the homeowner or the homeowners representative be present. We will accept a written note of permission from the owner to have a neighbor, friend, contractor or reality agent to be present during the inspection.

Is there a charge or fee for this inspection?

* NO, this is a free service.

How do I acquire a tree permit if I need one?

* A tree permit if needed is written up at the time of this inspection.

Are there things I can do as a homeowner before I have my inspection?

* YES, there are many things you can do on your property while you wait for your inspection.
* The Living with Fire Guide for Tahoe Basin homeowners is an invaluable tool for information on what homeowners should be doing on their own private properties.
* These guidelines can be picked up at any fire station, TRPA offices, and the Nevada Fire Safe Council's Tahoe Basin office or on the web at
* These guidelines work in conjunction with the various state and local laws pertaining to defensible space.
* You can reduce surface fuels by raking pine needles, leaving 2 to 3 inches of the duff for erosion control.
* Trim tree branches 10 feet up from the ground and 10 feet above roof line.
* Keep roof valleys and gutters free from pine needles. Remove scrap wood, firewood and any flammable materials to 30 feet away from any structures. And again refer to the Living with Fire Guidelines.

Is the suggested work to be performed mandatory and is there a time limit?

* Yes it is, according to the California law public resource code 4291