The Rancho Santa Fe Fire Protection District's Hazard Abatement Program is a year-round effort designed to reduce vegetation hazards for the protection of lives and property in the event of a major wildland fire. All residents are required to effectively maintain their properties to the standards set forth in Ordinance 2019-02 for Vegetation Management. Each spring, all property owners within the Fire District receive our annual hazard abatement packet in the mail. The packet outlines our weed abatement requirements and provides information on the steps you can take to create defensible space and further protect your home. The 2020 packet included the following:
- Introduction Letter
- Weed Abatement Notice
- Prepare Your Home
- Hazard Abatement Requirements
- Building Construction Features
- RSFFPD Evacuation Guidelines 2020
- Fire Wise Facts
- Landscape Requirements 2020
To schedule an appointment with a Fire Prevention Specialist to discuss concerns regarding potential hazards on your property, or to report a potential hazard on another property, email the Fire Prevention Bureau here.
Defensible Space Requirements
A fuel modification zone is required around every building designed primarily for human habitation or use, or a building designed specifically to house farm animals. Decks, sheds, gazebos, freestanding open-sided shade covers and similar accessory structures less than 250 square feet and 30 feet or more from a dwelling, and fences more than five feet from a dwelling, are not considered structures for the establishment of a 100 foot defensible space or fuel modification zone. This 100 foot space shall be broken down into 3 distinct zones as follows:
Zone 1, 0-5 Feet from a Structure
- Remove all combustible vegetation.
- Mulch should be pulled back a minimum of 5 feet from a structure.
- Clear rain gutters and roofs of all combustible debris such as leave and pine needles.
- Fencing should be made of non-combustible material, such as iron.
- Inspect roof for loose or missing shingles or tiles that could allow embers to get inside.
- Make sure eave and attic vents are screened.
- Never store combustible material under decks or porches.
Zone 2, 5-50 Feet from a Structure
- Remove any dead vegetation. That includes palm fronds and eucalyptus debris.
- Plant drought-tolerant, fire-resistive vegetation with irrigation.
- Trim back tree branches at least 10 feet from rooftops and chimneys.
- Depending on the size, propane tanks should be a minimum of 10 feet away from structures, vegetation, and other combustible materials.
- Firewood should be stacked neatly a minimum of 30 feet away from a structure.
- Trash enclosures or trash cans should be a minimum of 10 feet away from a structure and stored with the lid on.
Zone 3, 50 - 100 Feet from a Structure
- Remove any dead vegetation. That includes palm fronds and eucalyptus debris. Thin out native vegetation by 50% or more.
- Accumulated leaf litter or combustible mulch should not be deeper than 3 inches.
- Liquid propane gas tanks should have a minimum of 10 feet of bare mineral soil clearance with no flammable vegetation around their exterior.
There is no guarantee or assurance that compliance with these standards will prevent damage or destruction of structures by wildland fire in all cases.
Property owners are required to modify or thin brush, native vegetation, and annual grasses within 20 feet of a public or private access road. We require that all streetscape trees and vegetation be pruned to an acceptable vertical clearance of 13 feet 6 inches in height. We also recommend that trees with intermingled and continuous crowns close to access roads be thinned out. Selection, spacing, and maintenance of trees are critical in high fire hazard areas; this is essential if the roadway is to remain open when fire sweeps through. If vegetation is too close to the roadside, the road can become a tunnel of fire, forcing vehicles to drive in the center. Proper vertical tree clearance allows two-way traffic for evacuation purposes and fire apparatus access; a must during a wildfire!
Vertical Clearance (PDF)
Orchards, Groves or Vineyards
All orchards, groves, and vineyards should be kept in a healthy state and free of combustible debris and vegetation, including dead or downed trees.
- A 10-foot wide firebreak shall be cleared around the perimeter of all orchards, groves, and vineyards.
- All dry grasses, weeds, and mulch shall be removed and disked to bare mineral soil.
- Irrigation throughout orchards, groves, and vineyards is required.
Eucalyptus Forests and Oak Woodlands
All forests and woodlands should be kept in a healthy state and maintained as described below:
They need to be free of all dead, dying or diseased trees (excluding tree stumps no higher than six inches above the ground). If combustible vegetation is located underneath a tree’s dripline, the lowest branch should be at least three times as high as the understory brush or grasses, or ten feet, whichever is greater. This will reduce the build-up of “ladder” fuels. Firewood shall be neatly stacked and shall have a minimum of 30 feet of clearance to any structure. Debris and trimmings produced by the removal process shall be removed from the site, or shall be converted into mulch by a chipping machine and evenly dispersed to maximum depth of six inches.
Eucalyptus Tree Handout (PDF)