Secondary Fuel Breaks
Your secondary fuel break serves to increase the distance between your home and potentially flammable natural vegetation (and provides for a safer zone for firefighter operations). The secondary fuel break continues an additional 20-70 feet from where the primary fuel break left off (depending on individual home and property characteristics).
Your secondary fuel break should exhibit the following characteristics:
- Should be green and healthy
- Substantially free of dead branches
- Pruned where necessary to keep fire from laddering into tree crowns (usually eight feet up the tree)
- Thinned to whatever degree necessary to prevent fire from transferring from plant to plant.
Pertaining to trees/bushes/plants within the primary and secondary fuel breaks, it is a good idea to select (or maintain) fire-resistant species. Douglas-fire and Ponderosa are fire resistant tree species, for example. Also, remove suppressed or damaged trees, as they can act as unwanted fire fuels—transferring fire to the crowns of taller trees (a “suppressed” tree is one that lives below the canopy line—receiving less light than taller trees and therefore becoming spindly and more vulnerable to disease).
Also, it is not necessary or even desirable to “moonscape” your property of trees. A large, healthy, green tree can help shield a structure from intense radiant heat and firebrands. Shrubs can also help protect trees and structures if the plants are fire-resistant.
For more information on fire safety and your home, visit: Firewise
photos by John O'Conner