Use the dry weather to walk around your house and property, make a list of work to be done during winter and early spring. Below are questions to help you get started. Don’t worry if all the boxes on the outside checklists are checked and/or you have nothing checked on the indoors checklist. Now is the time to start tackling the list and each completed project brings you closer to being ready. Let’s get started.

Home inventory

A home inventory guide is available to all consumers through the California Department of Insurance by calling 800-927-4357 or visit their website and download the Home Inventory Guide.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has a free app myHOME that lets users capture images, descriptions, bar codes and serial numbers of personal possessions and stores the information electronically for safekeeping. The app organizes information by room and creates a back-up file for email sharing. To download the free app, go to the iTunes® or Android® Market app stores and search “NAIC.” Don’t forget to inventory your garage/barn and storage sheds.

Once you have completed the inventory, store copies in several locations – be that in the cloud, on a flash drive or hard copies. Give a copy to relatives or friends outside the area, store a copy at work if possible or in a safe deposit box. Don’t forget to update your home inventory regularly or after large purchases. The CA Insurance Department recommends home inventories should be updated at least three times per year, and your insurance company should be notified of new purchases so that you are adequately insured for the entire amount of your belongings.

There, that’s the first third of the indoors checklist completed.

Combine storm cleanup and defensible space clearing

We will talk in detail about ways to dispose of the storm damaged trees and limbs in an upcoming story, including the free storm green waste drop off events, hiring the Fire Safe Council chipping crew, dropping off green waste at the transfer station (for a fee) and hiring local vendors. While you clean up from the winter storm, take a look at your defensible space.

Not sure if your yard and property are in good shape?

Nevada County residents can avail themselves of free defensible space advisory visits by your local fire department or the Fire Safe Council of Nevada County. Get your request in early, as you can imagine there is a lot of demand right now.

If you live in one of the recognized Firewise Communities in Nevada County, or communities-in-training, join your neighbors and benefit from their expertise. You can also contact the Fire Safe Council via phone at 530-272-1122.

Nevada County fire department websites:

  1. Nevada County Consolidated Fire District
  2. Higgins Fire Protection District
  3. Penn Valley Fire Protection District
  4. Rough and Ready Fire Department
  5. Grass Valley Fire Department
  6. Peardale Chicago Park Fire Protection District
  7. Truckee Fire Protection District
  8. Nevada City Fire Department
  9. North San Juan Fire Protection District
  10. Tahoe National Forest
  11. California (Cal) Fire

Note that some fire departments do not have a digital presence at this time, i.e. Washington Fire Department and Ophir Hill Fire.

Some changes to Defensible Space Zones

Zones 1 and 2 currently make up the 100 feet of defensible space required by law. Assembly Bill 3074, passed into law in 2020, requires a third zone for defensible space. This law requires the Board of Forestry and Fire Protection to develop the regulation for a new ember-resistant zone (Zone 0) within 0 to 5 feet of the home by January 1, 2023. The intensity of wildfire fuel management varies within the 100-foot perimeter of the home, with more intense fuels’ reduction occurring closer to your home. Start at the home and work your way out to 100 feet or to your property line, whichever is closer.

Zone 0 – Ember-Resistant Zone

Zone 0 extends 5 feet from buildings, structures, decks, etc.

The ember-resistant zone is currently not required by law, but science has proven it to be the most important of all the defensible space zones.  This zone includes the area under and around all attached decks, and requires the most stringent wildfire fuel reduction.  The ember-resistant zone is designed to keep fire or embers from igniting materials that can spread the fire to your home. 

The following provides CAL FIRE guidance for this zone, which may change based on the regulation developed by the Board of Forestry and Fire Protection.

  • Use hardscape like gravel, pavers, concrete and other noncombustible mulch materials. No combustible bark or mulch
  • Remove all dead and dying weeds, grass, plants, shrubs, trees, branches and vegetative debris (leaves, needles, cones, bark, etc.); Check your roofs, gutters, decks, porches, stairways, etc.
  • Remove all branches within 10 feet of any chimney or stovepipe outlet
  • Limit plants in this area to low growing, nonwoody, properly watered and maintained plants
  • Limit combustible items (outdoor furniture, planters, etc.) on top of decks
  • Relocate firewood and lumber to Zone 2
  • Replace combustible fencing, gates, and arbors attach to the home with noncombustible alternatives
  • Consider relocating garbage and recycling containers outside this zone
  • Consider relocating boats, RVs, vehicles and other combustible items outside this zone

Zone 1 – Lean, Clean and Green Zone

Zone 1 extends 30 feet from buildings, structures, decks, etc. or to your property line, whichever is closer.

  • Remove all dead plants, grass and weeds (vegetation).
  • Remove dead or dry leaves and pine needles from your yard, roof and rain gutters.
  • Remove branches that hang over your roof and keep dead branches 10 feet away from your chimney.
  • Trim trees regularly to keep branches a minimum of 10 feet from other trees.
  • Relocate wood piles to Zone 2.
  • Remove or prune flammable plants and shrubs near windows.
  • Remove vegetation and items that could catch fire from around and under decks, balconies and stairs.
  • Create a separation between trees, shrubs and items that could catch fire, such as patio furniture, wood piles, swing sets, etc.

Zone 2 – Reduce Fuel Zone

Zone 2 extends from 30 feet to 100 feet out from buildings, structures, decks, etc. or to your property line, whichever is closer.

  • Cut or mow annual grass down to a maximum height of 4 inches.
  • Create horizontal space between shrubs and trees. (See diagram)
  • Create vertical space between grass, shrubs and trees. (See diagram)
  • Remove fallen leaves, needles, twigs, bark, cones, and small branches. However, they may be permitted to a depth of 3 inches.
  • All exposed wood piles must have a minimum of 10 feet of clearance, down to bare mineral soil, in all directions.

If your Zone 2 extends to the property line, connect with your neighbor. A joint project extending the reduce fuel zone could benefit both.

Zone 1 and 2

  • “Outbuildings” and Liquid Propane Gas (LPG) storage tanks shall have 10 feet of clearance to bare mineral soil and no flammable vegetation for an additional 10 feet around their exterior.
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Coming up next Friday: Access and egress – driveways, gates, garages and signage. For the indoors to-do list, we’ll remind you of the family emergency plan components.