Compliance Standards for Vegetation Inspections


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

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 firefighters and paramedics locate a home in the event of an emergency. Address numbers shall be a minimum of four inches in height and shall identify the home from at least 100 feet on approach from any direction by responding emergency personnel. Prune any vegetation away from the address numbers if necessary.

Maintain 30-ft fuel reduction zone around all buildings and neighboring structures; more may be required due to steepness of terrain.(CFC 4907.2)

The 30-foot fuel reduction zone helps create a defensible space around your home which can slow or even stop the spread of wildfire. Ground fuels such as seasonal weeds, feral grasses, brush, dead leaves or branches should be cut and removed. Vegetation growing around the property should be maintained and not allowed to grow feral. Create horizontal separation between individual plants. Limit the volume of ornamental vegetation so as not create an excessive fuel load.

Clear roof & rain gutters of leaves, needles or other dead & dying vegetation. (CFC 304.1.1)

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. Continued maintenance eliminates an ember receptive fuel bed.

Maintain 10-ft of horizontal clearance for all trees from any structure. (CFC 4907.3.1.1)

While the code states that trees should be 10 feet away from any structure, this indicates the property owner shall maintain trees by means of pruning branches. Please be mindful of pruning trees near homes, it is important to maintain the health, integrity, and intention of the tree with respect to fire safety/prevention. We recommend that owners prune smaller branches, dead branches, and branches making contact or overhanging a structure. At the horizontal roof line [rain gutter] no tree branches shall extend over the roof within 10 feet above. We do not recommend the removal of an entire tree unless in extreme circumstances as determined by the Fire Code Official.

Remove all portions of trees within 10-ft of chimney and/or stovepipe outlets. (CFC 4907.3.1.2)

Prune back tree branches that extend toward chimney or stovepipe outlets. It is necessary to prune branches even if your chimney is not in use. Spark arrestors shall be installed on chimney outlets.

Remove all tree limbs within 6-ft of the ground, or ¼ the height of the tree. (CFC 4907.3.1.3)

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.

Maintain trees adjacent to or overhanging any structure. Keep free of fallen and/or broken branches or other dead/dying vegetation.(CFC 4907.3.1.4)

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 a 10-ft minimum roadside clearance; additional may be required. (CFC 4907.3.2)

Vegetation growing along the roadway should be cut, raked, and removed. Ten feet is the minimum distance by code, though in some cases, more may be required. Limbs that overhang the roadway and are less than 15 feet above the ground should be cut back to the roadway edge. Pruning vegetation along the roadway improves vehicle access, increases sight lines, and creates a fuel break that could help stop the spread of wildfire. The intent is to prevent radiant or conductive heat transfer in a fire event. Season weeds and grasses, leaf litter, and brush that accumulate at the roadside are the number one cause of wildland fire ignitions.

Remove dead/dying vegetation from property. (CFC 304.1)

Dead vegetation must be removed from the parcel. Dead/dying limbs in trees should be removed. Piles of dead leaves, twigs, yard waste, etc. are not permitted to remain on the parcel.

Accumulations of wastepaper, wood, haystacks, weeds, litter or combustible/flammable waste or rubbish not permitted to remain on parcel. (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. Densities of combustible material could increase the fuel load. The code prohibits the accumulation of ordinary, combustible materials on the exterior of a parcel in a designated high fire hazard severity zone.

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, raked and removed. It may be necessary to cut feral vegetation 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. (CFC 4909.5)

Fire protection systems, fire hydrants, shall have a minimum of 36 inches of clearance in all directions for access for firefighters. (CFC 507.5.4)

Maintain all hazardous vegetation located within ten feet of any combustible fence. (CFC 4907.3.3)

Minimum Requirements. (CFC 4907.3.6)

Nothing contained in this section shall be deemed to preclude the Fire Code Official from requiring more than the minimum specific requirements set forth above when the Fire Code Official determines that conditions exist that necessitates greater fire protection measures.

No person shall stop, park, or leave standing any vehicle within 15 feet of fire hydrant. (CVC 22514)