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Permits and Regulations

Burn permits are required based upon the county in which you live.  Each county assesses the needs of their communities to develop safe guidelines. These permits vary in cost based on the county. There are often two permits that must be acquired--one from Cal Fire and one from the local Air Pollution Control District (APCD).  Please check your county permitting regulations. Note that some regulating agencies exempt defensible space from regular permit requirements. 

Defensible Space

Most Cal Fire permits are issued as part of hazard reduction burning, particularly in the defensible space zone. Creating defensible space is essential to protecting your home in the event of a wildfire.  It's the buffer you create between a building on your property and the grass, trees, shrubs or wildland areas that surround it.  This space slows or stops the spread of wildfire--either from direct flame or radiant heat.  Defensible space also protects firefighters defending your home. 

Two distinct zones make up your 100' defensible space:

Defensible Space

 Zone 1 extends 30 feet from buildings, structures and decks. 

  • Remove all dead plants, grass and weeds.
  • Remove dead or dry leaves and pine needles from your yard, roof and rain gutters. 
  • Trim trees regularly to keep branches a minimum of 10 feet from other trees (20 feet on a steep slope).
  • Remove branches that hang over your roof and keep dead branches 10 feet away from your chimney.
  • Relocate wood piles to Zone 2.
  • Remove or prune flammable plants and shrubs near windows.
  • Remove vegetation and items that could catch fire from, around and under decks.
  • Create a separation between trees, shrubs and items that could catch fire.

Zone 2 extends 100 feet out from buildings, structures, and decks. 

  • Cut or mow annual grass down to a maximum height of 4 inches.
  • Create horizontal space between shrubs and trees. 
  • Create vertical spacing between grass, shrubs, and trees. 
  • Remove fallen leaves, needles, twigs, bark, cones, and small branches. 

Horizontal Clearance

Vertical Clearance