Fire Breaks and Shaded Fuel Breaks

Fire and fuel breaks are important elements of wildfire mitigation around your home and vacant forested land. Each type of break is designed to hinder the spread of wildfire in a forested area by removing the fuel leg of the fire triangle. Although each break is designed differently and address a different type of fire, they are meant to be established together. A wildfire can spread as a surface fire, a crown fire, or a combination of both. The establishment of a fire and adjacent fuel breaks on your property help defend against both surface and crown fires together.

Fire Breaks

Fire Breaks are strips of bare soil or fire-retardant vegetation meant to stop the spread of surface fire into or out of forested areas by removing combustible fuel and therefore removing the fuel leg of the fire triangle. Fire breaks can take many forms such as roadways or bare soil therefore they can also double as access points to fight or escape wildfires. Defensible space immediate zone 1 around a home is also a fire break if properly treated and managed. It is essential that fire breaks are of sufficient width to establish the necessary space to hinder the spread of fire. Once established, fire breaks require regular care and diligence as weeds and natural vegetation are likely to seek out these areas due to available sunlight, water and minimal competition from other trees and vegetation. Kozar Tree Werks can help you assess, establish and maintain fire breaks on your property.

Shaded Fuel Breaks

Shaded fuel breaks are thinned and trimmed stands of trees meant to hinder the spread of both crown and surface fires. Thinning of the tree stands and creating appropriate horizontal and vertical space, as topography dictates, minimizes a crown fire advancement. Trimming tree limbs in a shaded fuel break the appropriate vertical distance above the forest floor prevents a surface fire from advancing up into the tree crows. Additionally, the remaining shaded area created by trimmed tree canopies creates a cool, moist area for green, low-combustible vegetation to thrive and thus limit the spread of surface fires. Defensible space extended zones 2-3 are shaded fuel breaks.

Collocation of Fire and Shade Fuel Breaks

Shade Fuel Breaks should be established on both sides of a fire break at an appropriate horizontal distance, determined by local topography. Shaded fuel break width on the downhill side of a sloped break is typically wider that the shaded fuel break on the adjacent uphill side. Alone, fire and shaded fuel breaks are strong defenses against wildfires however, together they represent a tough barrier that has resulted in many homes saved and wildfire advance limited. As a result, defensible space zone 1, 2 and 3 standards are designed around fire break and shaded fuel break partnership. Also, your driveway and other access points to your home and vacant land should be considered a fire break and shaded fuel break partnership. Although driveway shaded fuel break width might not be available to meet appropriate horizontal distance, any width at a minimum of roughly 30 feet on flat land is adequate.

Kozar Tree Werks seasoned professionals can help you assess and understand your home and property’s fire and shaded fuel break needs.

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