How good design can help protect your home from fires

June 24, 2019

Edan Asturi | Conrad Asturi Studios Inc.

The devastation fires in California created has really opened our eyes to reality. That’s why it’s now essential to include fire resistance concepts into any home and landscape whether it’s a new build, remodel, or upgrade. Some forethought and attention to your home can make all the difference as to whether your home will make it through a fire.

Some Quick Tips:


A minimum defensible space of 100 feet around your home is required by California law.

Defensible space is everything where your home’s landscaping is concerned. Monterey’s resource management agency recommends removal of flammable vegetation encircling your home to 30 feet “the green zone” or to the property line and then the next 70 feet maintained to provide a reduced fuel zone “the management zone”

Keep your roof free of leaves and branches as well as trimming and pruning adjacent or overhanging trees.

Trees should be trimmed periodically of any dead branches within 10 feet of the ground, making sure to remove limbs 6 feet from the ground.

Cut plants and grasses beneath tree canopies to prevent fires from spreading to the trees.

Top off shrubs and plants rather than removing all vegetation, they play a valuable role in holding the soil in place and stop erosion. UC division of Agriculture says to think of the 30-foot radius as the lean, clean and green zone, if your property is large then the next 70-foot radius should be a reduced fuel zone.

“During the Atlas fire, we were protected by the defensible space that was integrated into our home's design. We were grateful, everything from the way our home was sited and designed, to the vineyard planted surrounding it kept our home safe and sound”
Ginger Martin | Sonoma

Home Design

Exterior fires (those starting outside of structures) account for approximately 50 percent of all fires in rural and suburban areas.

I have 20 years of experience in the residential design and build industry in California. Our firm designed many homes in Sonoma and all of the homes we designed survived the Atlas, Tubbs and Nunn’s canyon fires in the wine country with very little damage. All were designed with the terrain in mind; materials were chosen for beauty and durability, exterior hardscapes and landscapes were designed for great indoor/outdoor lifestyles but also proved key for protecting the home.

If you are considering building a new home or remodeling, your fire resistance can be integrated into the design from the start. Choice of exterior materials, a fire resistant roof and gutter guards can make a huge difference in the basic fire resistance of your home. Also, if your property is gated as many of the homes in Pebble Beach are make sure there is a clear way for firefighter access, if a fire starts, those few extra minutes can save your home.

While there is no way to make a home 100% wildfire proof inside and out you always have the option of making it as fire resistant as possible.



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