Fire: Defensible Space: Creation of Ember-Resistant Zone within Five Feet of a Structure

Establishes, upon appropriation, an ember-resistant zone within five feet of a structure as part of the defensible space requirements for structures located in specified high fire hazard areas.  Requires removal of material from the ember-resistant zone based on the probability that vegetation and fuel will lead to ignition of the structure by ember.  

However, CAL Fire will NOT changer defensible space inspection practices and forms or enforcement to to implement the requirement for an ember-resistant zone until the director makes a written finding that the legislature has approrpriated sufficient resources to do so, which the director will post on CAL Fire's website, that the Legislature has appropriated sufficient resources to do so.  Moreover, this law is to be "based on regulations" by CAL Fire, and the promulgation of these regulations is "contingent upon an appropriation by the Legislature in the annual Budget Act of another stature for this purpose."

Current law requires a person who owns, leases, controls, operates, or maintains an occupied dwelling or structure to maintain a defensible space of 100 feet from each side of the structure.  This bill would require more instense fuel reductions between 5 and 30 feet around the structure and create an ember-resistant zone within 5 feet of the structure to help reduce ember ignitions.

1)  An ember-resistant zone shall include any attached deck.

2)  Required the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) to not change defensible space inspeciton practices and forms or enforcement to implement the requirement for an ember-resistant zone until the director makes a written finding, which the director shall post on the departnment's internet website, that the legislature has appropriated sufficient resources to do so.

3)  Regulations and updates to the defensible space guidance document to establish the ember-resistant zone are contingent upon appropriations by the Legislature.

According to the Author: Defensible space, or the reduction and maintenance of vegetation around the home, is vital for protecting homes and communities from wildfire.  Homes complying with the newest building standards are ignition resistant only if defensible space requirements are being met.  Homes that have ignited in a high intensity wildfire can send embers incredible distances.  Defensible space is an important tool to stop the spread of wildfires and provide a space for firefighers to put out the fire.  Current defensible space requirements have a two zone defensible space requirements have a two zone defensible space strategy.  Zone one is within 30 feet of the home, and zone two extends outward from 30 to 100 feet of the home.  These traditional zones are important for reducing ignition from direct flame contact.  However, ember ignitions are responsible for the majority of wildland fire home ignitions. An ember-resistant zone will reduce ember ignitions, protecting homes and lives.

Assembly Bill 3074 is codified as Government Code Sections 51182, 51186, and 51189, and Public Resources Code Section 4291.  

Effective January 1, 2021 : Source: www.gov.ca.gov

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