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FIREWISE NY Homeowners

Make Your Home Firewise - Protect It from Wildland Fires

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The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Forest Rangers and the national Firewise Communities program are working to inform New York State residents about wildland fire safety and prevention.

Make Your Home Firewise Brochure (PDF 780 kb)

You can protect your home and property from wildland fire by following these tips:

Home Construction & Maintenance

  • Avoid building on hills and the edge of ridgetops-homes in these location are more susceptible because fire travels uphill more quickly.
  • Metal roof on home near woods

    Use the following materials in home construction:

    • Fire resistant roofing materials like composition shingle, metal, clay or cement tile;
    • Fire-resistant exterior wall materials like stucco, stone, brick, or block, and
    • Double-paned or tempered glass in windows and doors to reduce breakage from heat, and the entry of burning embers during a fire.
  • Construct fences of non-flammable materials or don't attach the fence directly to your home.
  • Box in the undersides of overhangs, decks and balconies with noncombustible or fire-resistant materials.
  • Enclose eaves, fascias and soffits with vent openings 1/8" or smaller, to prevent entry of embers.
  • Remove leaves, branches and twigs from overhangs and gutters.


  • Ensure that roadways and driveways are constructed and maintained so they can be used by firefighting equipment to access your home.
  • Be sure bridges and culverts can support the weight of fire trucks.


0 to 30 feet from Your Home

Keep everything within 30 feet of your home lean, clean and green. This area should be well-irrigated and free from fuels that may ignite your home, such as dry vegetation, clutter and debris. Flammable attachments to the home, such as wooden decks, fences and boardwalks, are considered part of the house. The perimeter should extend 30 feet beyond these attachments.

Remember Lean, Clean and Green

  • Carefully space plantings in this area, using plants that are low-growing and free of resins, oils and waxes that burn easily. For a list of low-flammability vegetation, contact your state forester, forestry office, or local landscape specialist.
  • Mow your lawn regularly.
  • Prune all trees so the lowest limbs are at least six to 10 feet from the ground.
  • Keep flammable conifer trees widely separated-about 30 feet between crowns-to reduce the risk of crown fire. Remember, trees that hang over the house will deposit leaves and branches on the house and immediately surrounding area.
  • Within five feet of the home, use non-flammable landscaping materials, such as rock, paver stones, and plant annuals and high moisture content perennials.
  • Be sure to remove dead leaves and stems immediately.
Example of a Lean, Clean & Green area by a house
  • Remove dead vegetation, such as leaves and pine needles from gutters, under your deck and porches, and within 10 feet of your home.
  • Store all flammable material in your garage or basement, not under decks and porches.
  • Consider purchasing accessories, like patio furniture and swing sets, made of fire resistant materials. Be sure to keep the area around them clear of debris.
  • During periods of high fire danger, keep patio cushions inside the house when not in use.
  • Locate propane tanks at least 30 feet from the home.
  • Keep firewood stacks at least 30 feet from the home during the fire season.
  • Water plants and trees regularly to ensure they are healthy and green, especially during fire season.
  • Keep mulch watered, as it can become flammable when dry or use some of the several fire resistant mulches that are currently available.
  • Consider xeriscaping, especially in areas with low water supply and/or water-use restrictions. Xeriscaping is a popular method for conserving water through creative use of landscaping features that are both fire resistant and require limited irrigation. Contact your local nursery or landscape architect for more information.
  • Avoid using highly flammable plants near or against your house. Highly flammable plants can result in a serious fire should they become ignited.
Diagram depicting various Firewise tips

30 to 100 feet from Your Home

Trees separated in accordance with Firewise tips
  • Use plants in this zone that are low-growing and less flammable. Keep them well irrigated.
  • Leave 30 feet between clusters of two or three trees, or 20 feet between individual trees.
  • Develop a mixture of deciduous and coniferous trees. Most deciduous trees do not support intense fires.
  • Give yourself added protection with "fuel breaks," such as driveways, gravel walkways, and lawns.
  • Remove low branches and leaves at least 6 to 10 feet above the ground.
  • Remove heavy accumulations of flammable debris, such as dried leaves, pine needles, pine cones, etc.
Person with chainsaw thinning trees and down limbs in woods near home

100 to 200 feet from Your Home (in High Fire Hazard Areas)

  • Thin trees, but not as thin as described in the 30 to 100 feet zone.
  • Remove heavy accumulation of woody debris, such as piles of wood or branches.
  • Remove smaller conifers that are growing between taller trees. Reduce the density of tall trees so canopies are not touching. This will reduce the ability for high intensity crown fires to reach your home.
  • Check with your local forest ranger or fire department to determine if your home is in a high fire hazard area.

Home landscaped according to the Firewise tips

Use the links in the right column for more information on how to reduce the risk of losing your home to wildland fire.