Compliance Standards for Vegetation Inspections


Below is a list of the specific items inspectors will be checking for during vegetation inspections.

The following items are summaries of the actual adopted California Fire Code and Oakland Municipal Codes. Please see for full language on local codes and for California Codes.

Provide street address numbers that are minimum 4 inches in height, legible, contrasting color and visible from roadway in front of property. (CFC 505.1)

Address numbers are very important in helping first responders locate a home in the event of an emergency. Address numbers shall be large enough to see from the street and shall be in a visible area. Prune any vegetation away from the address numbers if necessary.

Maintain 30 feet of defensible space around all buildings and neighboring structures; more may be required due to steepness of terrain. (OMC 4907.4)

The 30-foot defensible space around your home which can slow or even stop the spread of wildfire. Ground fuels such as grass, small shrubs, and dead leaves or branches should be cut or removed. Vegetation growing around the property should be maintained and not allowed to grow feral. Create horizontal separation between individual plants.

Additional Defensible Space may be increased to 100 feet from any structure due to slope. (OMC 4907.5)

Fires may move faster on sloped properties. Additional defensible space will help create a buffer zone between a structure and a fire.

Maintain a 10-ft minimum roadside clearance; additional may be required. (OMC 4907.5.2) Property owner is required to keep at least 10 feet on each side of any road or driveway cleared from non-fire-resistive vegetation growth.

Clear any growth overhanging any road, fire-road, or driveway at least 13 feet and 6 inches from the ground. (CFC 503.2.1)

This clearance is necessary for any responding fire department vehicles.

Cut back all portions of trees (or plants) within 10 feet of chimney or stovepipe outlet. Chimneys not in use are still required to meet these criteria. (OMC 4907.5.1.2)

This helps reduce the spread of fire from inside a structure.

Chimneys or stovepipes that are attached to any fireplace, stove, or other device that burns any solid or liquid fuel require a screen which shall be constructed of nonflammable material with openings of not more than 1/2 inch in size. (CFC 304.1.2 item #6)

These screens help deter the spread of embers from a controlled inside fire.

Tree crowns extending to within 10 feet of any structure shall be pruned to maintain a minimum horizontal clearance of 10 feet. (OMC 4907.5.1.1)

Trees do not have to be removed completely. Any branches that are contacting any structure, overhanging the roof of any structure, dangling from a tree, or dead need to be pruned back to create as much “cold-air” space as possible between vegetation and structures. Please prune limbs back as much as possible while maintaining the health, integrity, and intention of the tree with respect to fire safety.

Maintain the roof of any structure free of leaves, needles, or other dead vegetative growth. (CFC 304.1.2 item #5)

Dead leaves and pine needles can accumulate on roofs and in gutters. It may be necessary to clear the roof off regularly, especially after periods of heavy wind.

Trees within the defensible space shall be pruned to remove limbs located less than 6 feet above the ground surface. (OMC 4907.5.1.3)

It is important to create vertical separation between the ground and the lowest growing limbs of trees. Trees shall be limbed up to 6 feet from the ground. For smaller trees, please limb up to a quarter of the height of the tree. The purpose here is to eliminate the spread of ground fire to upper portions, or crown, of trees. Eliminating these “ladder fuels” greatly helps in the prevention and spread of wildfire.

Deadwood and litter shall be regularly removed from trees. (OMC 4907.5.1.4)

Locate and remove dead branches and/or leaves from trees. Certain plant species, such as eucalyptus or juniper, are known to shed combustible material often.

304.1.1 Waste material. Accumulations of wastepaper, wood, hay, straw, weeds, litter or combustible or flammable waste or rubbish of any type shall not be permitted to remain on a roof or in any court, yard, vacant lot, alley, parking lot, open space, or beneath a grandstand, bleacher, pier, wharf, manufactured home, recreational vehicle or other similar structure. (CFC 304.1.1)

Collections of flammable materials, such as boxes, construction materials, lumber, and certain other containers should be removed from the premises. Densities of materials could increase the fuel load in a manner that increases the heat produced or pose hazardous chemical reactions.

Weeds, grass, vines or other growth that is capable of being ignited and endangering property shall be cut down and removed by the owner or occupant of the premises. (CFC 304.1.2)

Ground fuel, such as grass, needs to cut to height between 4 and 6 inches. It is important to leave some ground cover to prevent the possibility of erosion. Vacant lots must have all ground fuels cut. It may be necessary to cut grass on a parcel more than once per season.

Storage of firewood in excess of daily use shall not be within 20 feet of structure, stored in unenclosed spaces beneath buildings, below decks or under eaves. (OMC 4912.13)

Firewood and combustible material shall not be stored in unenclosed spaces beneath buildings or structures, on or below decks or under eaves, canopies or other projections or overhangs. When required by the Fire Code official, storage of firewood and combustible material stored in the defensible space shall be located a minimum of 20 feet from structures and separated from the crown of trees by a minimum horizontal distance of 15 feet.

Fire protection systems, fire hydrants, shall have 3 feet of clearance in all directions. (CFC 507.5.5)

A 3-foot clearance shall be maintained around fire hydrants. Unobstructed access shall remain at all times.

Maintain all hazardous vegetation located within ten feet of any combustible fence. (CFC 4907.5.3)

Prune vegetation away from fences. Although ten feet is recommended in the code, we ask you to be mindful in pruning vegetation. Branches making contact with a fence and dead vegetation near a fence shall be removed.

4907.5.4 Cut vegetation and refuse.

Remove and/or safely dispose of all cut vegetation and hazardous refuse. Cut grass may be left on the slope to protect the soil if it lays down within three (3) inches (76 mm) of the ground. Cut vegetation may be chipped or mulched and left on the slope up to a depth of 12 inches (30 mm).

Don’t leave yard waste, mulch, or wood chips on property more than approved depths.

4912.8.3 Clearance from Ignition Sources.

Clearance between ignition sources and grass, brush or other combustible materials shall be maintained a minimum of 30 feet.

Any source of ignition must be kept at least 30 feet from any item which may be ignited.