Lot Size -
Number of people in household? Are there any at risk individuals?
Driveway length greater than 200 feet and/or too narrow for a brush truck or type 6 engine?
Widen your driveway and if possible, create an adequate turnaround area for fire apparatus. Remove or thin vegetation adjacent to the driveway to create better access. Ensure chains, gates, or fences are wide enough for access and are open during an emergency
Heavy fuel along or overhanging driveway?
Thin trees and remove brush along driveway to create better access. Remove branches that overhang the driveway and prune low hanging branches on larger trees to reduce the risk of fire spreading from the ground into the trees.
Address marker missing or hard to see?
Install a high visibility reflective address sign on a non-combustible post. First responders MUST be able to identify your location to safely protect and respond.
Ingress and Egress
Consider signing up for reverse 9-1-1 to receive standby and evacuation notices
Is the road to the house, or one of the roads if there are multiple ways in and out, steeper than 5% grade?
- Steep slopes (greater than 20%) within 30 feet of structure?
- Located on ridge, chimney, saddle, box canyon?
- No significant topography changes
- Not inspected
Due to the position of your structure on the landscape, you should take extra care to manage the vegetation within 100 to 200 feet of your property. Thin small trees and remove brush to break up the continuity of the vegetation and reduce the risk of high intensity fire approaching your home. Keep your lawn mowed and watered.
What is the condition of the neighbors property in terms of fire mitigation?
Due to the proximity of neighboring properties to your home, extra care should be taken to create defensible space and maintain ignition-resistant construction. In addition, consider talking with your neighbors about fuel reduction.
Make sure all roof edges have "bird stops" or mortar to prevent embers from entering the area between the tile and the roof deck.
The roof is the most vulnerable part of your structure during a wildfire. Replace wood shakes with Class A fire resistant roofing.
Condition (shingles flat with no gaps, all shingles present, bird stops present?)
Repair gaps, replace any missing shingles, and install bird stops if needed.
Is there exposed combustible material where the roof covering and roof deck meet?
Install drip edge at the roof edge to protect any exposed roof sheathing.
Litter present on roof, in gutters and crevices?
Clear roof, gutters, valleys and crevices of all litter, needles and debris.
Are skylights present?
If plastic dome skylights, replace with dual pane tempered glass. Make sure all metal flashing is in good repair and keep debris and leaf litter clear from the surrounding area.
Are dormers or other design features present that create an intersection between the roof and a vertical wall?
Install metal flashing from roof deck up dormers.
Are the vertical walls that meet the roof vulnerable to fire (wood shake, vinyl)?
Replace with ignition-resistant construction material such as rock, brick or cement board. Keep this area free from needles and debris.
Consider replacing with non-combustible (metal) gutters. If replacement isn't feasible at this time, pay special attention to keeping your gutters free from needles and debris.
Open eave framing?
Consider enclosing the soffits to reduce the amount of heat that can build under the eaves. Enclosed soffits also have vents that are parallel to the ground and are less likely to collect embers during a wildfire.
Repair vents to reduce the risk of embers entering the eaves.
Are vents and openings present that have no metal mesh screens or are screens in need of repair?
Screen all vents and openings with 1/8 inch or smaller metal mesh to reduce the probability of embers entering your structure.
Siding combustible (wood or vinyl)?
Consider replacing siding with non-combustible alternative such as cement board or stucco.
Consider replacing single pane windows with dual pane tempered glass.
Nooks and crannies and other small spaces (gaps, holes, areas where embers could lodge or accumulate)?
Keep all nooks and crannies free from litter, flammable decor, and/or nesting material.
Are there wall and/or gable vents that lack 1/8" metal mesh screening?
Cover vents with 1/8" metal mesh screening.
Are dryer vents plastic, lack louvers or function poorly?
Install louver vents and make sure they operate properly.
Bump-outs or other structural pieces overhanging foundation?
Keep the area under the "bump-out" free from debris and vegetation. If the bottom of the bump-out is wood or other combustible material, consider replacing or covering with a non-combustible material such as cement board.
Is the ground to siding clearance at least 8 inches?
Create at least 8 inches of clearance from the ground to flammable siding replacing with non-combustible alternatives. Remove any combustible mulch and clear vegetation from the 5 feet next to the home.
Open foundation design or flammable materials under/next to the structure?
Flammable materials stored next to or under your structure can provide a receptive place for embers to land and ignite. Remove these materials and store them in a garage or at least 30 feet from the structure. Remove vegetation under the structure and consider putting down gravel. If the foundation is raised, screen or skirt the foundation with non-combustible material.
Does house have a garage?
Are there gaps in or under the garage door?
Weather seal the perimeter of the door and consider replacing damaged windows. Repair or replace doors that leave gaps or holes (these gaps can allow embers to enter the garage).
Presence of a deck?
With a wooden deck, it is extra important to make certain that the area under the deck is free from vegetation or other flammable items. Regularly clean out debris from between the deck board joints and other areas where debris has accumulated (example: under stairs). In the event of a wildfire, remove flammable items such as brooms, patio furniture (including cushions), and propane tanks from the deck.
Repair/replace rotted or damaged boards.
There is sometimes a misunderstanding regarding the combustibility of wood-plastic composite decking products (such as Trex). These products are also combustible - so it is extremely important to maintain your deck(s) well. Keep the area under all decks free from debris and flammable materials and routinely clean the needles and debris from the deck board joints.
Has debris accumulated at the deck to wall junction and/or does this area lack flashing?
Remove debris and litter from this area. If the wall or deck is made of combustible materials, install metal flashing between this junction. Take care to install flashing correctly to prevent water damage.
Flammable material or vegetation under deck?
Remove flammable material (wood piles, gasoline, lawn mowers, etc) and vegetation from under the deck. Even composite decks can burn if there is flammable material stored underneath the deck.
Does the deck overhang a steep slope?
Consider enclosing (and properly ventilating) deck. Extend defensible space to 200 feet downhill from the deck. Remove flammable material or vegetation from this area. Consider building a noncombustible wall across the slope approximately 10-20 feet from the edge of the deck.
Combustible fence attached to structure?
Anything that attaches to your home can provide a pathway for fire to spread to the structure. Replace all wood or vinyl fencing with metal, or alternatively, replace at least the 5-foot section that attaches to the home.
Are there any other additional structure recommendations?
Has bark mulch been used?
Replace with rock or other non-combustible material
Vegetation, brush or trees in this zone?
Install a hard surfaces adjacent to the structure and extending out at least 8 inches. Such as a concrete walkway or use non-combustible mulch (rock). Keep the lawn well irrigated and use low-growing herbaceous (non-woody) plants. Avoid plants that generate ground litter from bark, leaves, or seeds that slough off. Shrubs and trees are not recommended in this zone.
This zone is particularly important if you have wood or vinyl siding. Rock pathways can be used and there is no need to keep the edge of this zone a straight line. Curving or winding ignition-resistant pathways can be both pleasing to the eye and provide protection to your home.
Are there landscape timbers, debris, or other combustible material present in this zone?
Remove this material.
Are detached accessory structures (sheds, temporary buildings, garages, play sets) located within 30 feet of the home?
Relocate play sets, sheds, temporary buildings at least 30 feet from the home. If unable to relocate, complete mitigation actions on and around these structures as you have done for the home.
Are there other combustible items located within 30 feet of the structure (scrap lumber, junk, cars, boats, RVs, etc.)?
Wood pile stored closer than 30 feet to the home?
Relocate the wood pile to an area more than 30 feet from the home.
Do trees or branches touch or overhang the structure?
Prune branches so there is a minimum of 10 feet of separation between the vegetation and the roof.
Is there brush or other vegetation that could act as a "ladder" and allow fire to climb into larger trees or the structure itself?
All trees and shrubs in this zone should be well spaced and well maintained. Plant in groupings or "islands" of vegetation so that if wind-blown embers were to ignite the group, the heat would be insufficient to ignite the home or adjacent islands.
Remove dead plant material and tree branches. Remove brush and small trees that could act as a ladder to transmit fire into the tree tops or onto the structure itself. Remove most of the younger understory trees that are crowding the larger overstory trees. Remove brush and small trees from the dripline of the well-spaced larger trees. Prune live limbs (recommend pruning September to March if live limbs) and dead limbs up to 14 feet in height. HOWEVER, do not remove more than 30% of the live crown and make sure to retain 50% of the live crown on smaller trees (this may mean smaller trees are pruned to a height of less than 14 feet).
Do grasses and weeds need to be trimmed or maintained?
Keep grass in this zone watered and cut below 6 inches in height.
Are there piles of downed dead branches, dead logs, slash and/or heavy accumulations of pine needles?
Remove this material.
Are ladder fuels present in this zone?
A forest with a higher canopy and fewer ladder fuels reduces the risk of a surface fire climbing into the canopy of the forests causing a crown fire
Is the canopy in this zone continuous?
Remove trees so that there is spacing in the canopy, a continuous canopy can carry a crown fire. Start by targeting dead, sick and dying trees, then remove trees to create individual trees, clumps and openings. 2-3 standing or down dead trees or "snags" can be retained in this zone. These snags should be a minimum of 8" in diameter at breast height (DBH).
Other notes: When performing mitigation efforts it is always good practice to begin at the structure and work your way out to the rest of your property.
Have you completed any of the recommended work? If so, please let us know by going to https://app.smartsheet.com/b/form?EQBCT=a39400ee97a74dd0adf11719af3d81ce
Natural Resource and Conservation Service - EQIP
The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is a voluntary program that provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers through contracts up to a maximum term of ten years in length. These contracts provide financial assistance to help plan and implement conservation practices that address natural resource concerns and for opportunities to improve soil, water, plant, animal, air and related resources on agricultural land and non-industrial private forestland. Information for South Dakota residents is available online: https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/sd/programs/financial/eqip/
Resource Conservation & Forestry can answer questions on forest or tree health and provide site visits to help identify and address problems
For more information Contact by phone: (605) 394-2395
www.firewise.org is a leader in community wildfire protection. They offer a wealth of information on how to prepare your home and community. Information available online at: http://www.firewise.org/wildfire-preparedness/be-firewise/home-and-landscape.aspx
Reducing Fire Risk on Your Forest Property
The degree of wildfire risk depends on both the probability of an ignition and the potential for damage or harm (such as loss of trees, homes, or even lives). Recognizing that you may have a high wildfire risk is the first step in doing something about it. Whether you own a few acres or thousands, this publication will help you reduce the potential for wildfire damage on your property while improving overall forest health and wildlife habitat. Although these actions won’t prevent a wildfire from coming onto your property, they can make it more fire resistant. By following the guidelines in this publication you can reduce a fire’s severity so that most trees survive and firefighters are better able to attack and extinguish the blaze.
Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety
A national leader in disaster preparedness, the Institute for Business and Home Safety has two publications available online that are extremely helpful:
Experts recommend reviewing your homeowners policy annually to make certain you are aware of your coverage limitations and provisions. Consider contacting a local expert to get an estimate of what it would cost you to rebuild. Is your coverage adequate to cover those costs? The book "Surviving Wildfire" by Linda Masterson has an in-depth discussion of insurance coverage and policy limits. It can be ordered from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Surviving-Wildfire-Prepared-Handbook-Homeowners/dp/1936555158
Complete a home inventory and store it in a safe place (off-site). www.knowyourstuff.org provides a handy template as do many insurance companies.
The American Red Cross recommends that every family have an emergency supply kit. A recommended list of contents is contained on this guide: http://www.redcross.org/get-help/prepare-for-emergencies/be-red-cross-ready/get-a-kit
More information can also be found here: http://www.ready.gov/build-a-kit
Remember to think about the 5 P's: People, Pets, Prescriptions, Papers and Photographs.
Conduct a practice evacuation with your family. Make sure to identify alternative routes and meeting places in case of separation.
Are you signed up to receive emergency notifications through reverse 911 or Code Red?
Sign up for emergency alerts at
Information on evacuating with pets can be found here: http://www.ready.gov/caring-animals
Those with large livestock should not wait until the last moment to evacuate.
The SD Wildland website provides information, links, and FAQ’s about obtaining and using burn permits to burn slash in the Black Hills Forest Fire Protection District.
to access this information go to https://wildlandfire.sd.gov/burnpermits/burnpermits.aspx
Most structures DON'T ignite from direct flame contact. Most structures ignite from radiant heat (heat that doesn't warm the intervening air but does warm objects) and embers (airborne cinders, sparks, burning pine cones, etc.).
Radiant heat will quickly warm a fuel such as fencing, decks, siding or the roof to a temperature in which it automatically ignites. Flames from the actual wildfire may be several dozen or hundreds of feet away, but the house is now burning. Radiant heat also passes through windows and may ignite materials inside a home, bypassing the exterior walls altogether.
Embers (also known as fire brands) also ignite structure fires. As fires burn, they suck in oxygen and push heated air upward. That column of rising air contains embers and tosses them in all directions, often several miles away from the main fire. If an ember lands on a combustible surface such as pine needles in a gutter, dry grass or wood shake shingles, then it could ignite a spot fire away from the main fire capable of growing into a new wildfire or burning a structure.
For information on making your home more resistant to wildfires, contact an Urban Interface Technician from South Dakota Wildland Fire (605.394.2584, email@example.com or wildlandfire.sd.gov).