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Choosing a Fire-Safe Fence in High Risk Fire Areas

Choosing a Fire-Safe Fence in High Risk Fire Areas

Living in an area with high wildfire risk means taking extra precautions to protect your home and property. An important part of your fire safety plan is choosing the right type of fencing. While fences can help mark boundaries and keep pets in, they can also act as fuel to spread flames during a wildfire. Some materials are far more fire resistant than others. When selecting a fence in a fire-prone region like Placer, Nevada or El Dorado Counties, durability, non-flammable materials and open, mesh designs are key.

Fire-Safe Types of Fences

DURABOND- Corrugated Steel Privacy Fence


For a solid, decorative look in a fire-prone area, consider fences made of corrugated steel. Materials like Durabond feature corrugated steel panels that secure inside of an attractive and durable matching steel frame. This fence looks awesome from both sides and provides your privacy while also deterring wildlife intrusion into your yard.

The Durabond fencing system is non-combustible and can help to protect your property in the case of brush fires or forest fires. CSIRO’s, in Australia, conducted extensive research into the performance of residential boundary fencing in the case of brush fires, and concluded that steel fencing, when compared to other materials “performed the best under all exposure conditions and in particular when faced with 30-minute flame immersion test used to simulate potential effects of an adjacent house fire.”

Click to See The Report

We have seen an increasing demand for this type of steel fencing product in Firewise Communities of Placer, Nevada, and El Dorado Counties.

Ornamental Iron Fences

Ornamental iron is a classic fencing choice that can also be quite fire-resistant. Steel won’t burn and is slow to conduct heat. The open designs of wrought iron and other ornamental iron styles will not trap embers or burning debris. This prevents flames from being funneled toward your home. Look for iron fence panels with minimal scrollwork and small, geometric shapes that allow maximum airflow. Avoid large flat panels that can act as sails in high winds during a wildfire.

Woven Wire Fences

Woven wire fences connected to steel T-posts present a fairly fire-safe option. The mesh design allows smoke, embers and heat to pass through. This keeps the fencing from igniting during a fire. Look for tight mesh spacing of 2 inches or less. Avoid chain link fencing with privacy slats, as these can trap burning debris inside the fence. While wood fence posts will easily burn, the metal T-posts used with woven wire fences are fire-resistant.

Chain Link Fences

Chain link is another wire mesh-type fencing suitable for high fire risk areas. Galvanized steel chain link has an open weave that resists ignition. It won’t readily catch embers like a wood fence. Look for heavier 9 gauge chain link with 2 inch mesh spacing. While the metal structure is fire-proof, avoid vinyl privacy slats that can melt and burn. Also avoid chain link fences with flammable posts and poles rather than metal frame supports.

The right fencing can protect your home instead of fueling a wildfire in high risk areas. In addition to fire-safe fencing, be sure to take measures to harden your home and create defensible space zones around structures. Talk to fencing contractors about the best durable, non-combustible styles for your property. With smart design and fire-resistant materials, an attractive fence can be an asset instead of a liability in a major fire.

Home Hardening Measures for Fire Safety

In addition to fire-safe fencing, homeowners in these counties should also implement home hardening techniques and create defensible space. Home hardening involves using fire-resistant building materials, enclosed eaves, dual-paned windows, and minimal vegetation touching structures. Defensible space is an area around the home cleared of combustible materials and vegetation, and is broken into zones:

Zone 0 – The first 5 feet from your home is the most important. Keeping this area closest to buildings and decks clear prevents embers from igniting materials that can spread fire.

  1. Use hardscape– Utilize noncombustible hardscape materials like gravel, pavers, or concrete instead of flammable bark or mulch.
  2. Remove all dead and dying plants— Eliminate all dead or dying vegetation, weeds, and debris (leaves, needles, etc.) from your roof, gutters, deck, porch, stairs, and areas under your home.
  3. Chimney and Stove Pipes– Prune any branches within 10 feet of chimneys or stovepipe outlets.
  4. Decks– Limit flammable items like outdoor furniture on top of decks.
  5. Woodpiles– Move firewood and lumber to an area at least 30 feet from structures.
  6. Fences, gates, and arbors— Replace combustible fencing, gates, and arbors attached to your home with nonflammable alternatives.
  7. Garbage and recycling containers— Consider repositioning garbage and recycling bins outside the 30 foot perimeter.

Zone 1 – The first 30 feet around structures should be clean, low cut, and ideally green. Regularly remove dead vegetation and create space between trees and shrubs to reduce fuels.

  1. Dead Plants– Eliminate any deceased vegetation, including grass and unwanted plants
  2. Clear away — Dead or dry leaves and pine needles.
  3. Trim trees regularly– To keep branches a minimum of 10 feet from other trees.
  4. Breate a buffer zone — Between trees, shrubs, and items that could catch fire.

Zone 2 – The 30-100 feet around your home should have potential fuels reduced. Continue cutting grass, creating horizontal and vertical separation between plants, and removing dead vegetation and wood piles.

  1. Cut or mow annual grass — Keep grass trimmed to 4 inches or less.
  2. Create horizontal space — Leave space between shrubs and trees.
  3. Create vertical space between grass, shrubs and trees.
  4. Remove dead plant material—for example needles, twigs, bark, cones, and small branches.
  5. Keep 10 feet of clearance around exposed wood piles—clear it down to bare soil
  6. Clear areas around outbuildings and propane tanks. Clear 10 feet around buildings and tanks to bare soil. Clear additional 10 feet around exterior.

More Defensible Space Information Per County

Nevada County Defensible Space Program — https://www.nevadacountyca.gov/3004/Defensible-Space

Placer County Defensible Space Program — https://www.placer.ca.gov/7660/Defensible-Space

El Dorado County Defensible Space Program — https://www.edcgov.us/Government/CAO/VegetationManagement

Cal Fire Defensible Space Program — https://www.fire.ca.gov/dspace

Firewise Communities— https://www.readyforwildfire.org/prepare-for-wildfire/firewise-communities/