Department of Environmental Conservation

D E C banner

For Release: Tuesday, April 10, 2012

DEC Advises: Precautions for Homeowners to Protect Properties from Wildfire Damage

Homeowners in rural and suburban areas that lie alongside open and forested lands should take precautions to protect their homes from being damaged or destroyed in a wildfire, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Forest Rangers advised today.

Over the years, many people who enjoy the remoteness and scenic beauty of New York's rural settings have built primary residences or seasonal homes adjacent to or in areas susceptible to wildland fires. Homes and other buildings in these areas are referred to as the Wildland/Urban Interface. The wildland/urban interface refers to any location where human structures and woodlands or other open areas intermingle, allowing a wildland fire to reach beyond trees, brush, and other natural fuels to ignite homes and other structures.

Recent wildland fires throughout New York and the northeast have threatened and destroyed homes. An overwhelming number of these fires are human caused, such as brush burning, unattended campfires, discarded fireplace ashes, etc. Generally, these fires occur in residential areas putting not only the owner's property at risk but their neighbors as well, and every year homes, camps and sheds are damaged or destroyed by wildfires.

DEC Forest Rangers, the NY Firewise Council and the national Firewise Communities program are working to inform New Yorkers about wildland fire safety and prevention through the New York Firewise program.

Homeowners can take steps to reduce the risk of damage from wildfires before one ever occurs. When constructing, renovating, landscaping and maintaining the property around the home, consider the following wildfire risk reduction strategies:

Home Construction & Maintenance

  • Use non‑flammable materials for roof and exterior walls;
  • Use fire retardant finishes on exterior wood;
  • Use double‑paned or tempered glass in windows;
  • Enclose eaves, fascias, soffits, and vents;
  • Remove tree limbs from overhangs and attachments;
  • Keep gutters and roofs clean of twigs, leaves, and pine needles.

Landscaping (within 30 feet of your home & camp and their porches & decks)

  • Use fire resistant plants, landscaping materials, and accessories;
  • Keep area clear of all dead vegetation and other flammable debris;
  • Remove limbs on trees up to 10 ft. from ground;
  • Maintain space between trees;
  • Regularly mow, prune, and water lawns and gardens;
  • Do NOT place propane tanks under porches or decks, or directly against your home; and
  • Do NOT store firewood adjacent to your home April through September.

For additional information on protecting homes and/or camps from wildfires, contact a local DEC office or visit

  • Contact for this Page
  • Press Office - Lori Severino
    625 Broadway
    Albany, NY 12233-1016
    email us
  • This Page Covers
  • Page applies to all NYS regions