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Author Topic: Defendable Space vs. Zero Cut  (Read 4353 times)

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Offline Gary_C

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Defendable Space vs. Zero Cut
« on: July 02, 2007, 09:43:57 AM »
Last week I saw a news clip on ABC about the fires in the Lake Tahoe area. They were showing homeowners being allowed back to view what remained of their homes and posessions. All were lamenting their total losses except one guy who was very angry and said "they would not let us cut even one tree around our homes." I suspect the news editor was probably censured for allowing that comment to be seen on the "save all the trees network (ABC)."

I have heard that insurance companies are now requiring a forest fire defense plan before renewing policies on homes in the forest, especially in the west. Also I know in Colorado the DNR is very busy writing plans for "defendable space" even for the radicals in Aspen.

Nothing like losing your own possesions to wake up even the most radical environmentalist.
Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.

Offline Sprucegum

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Re: Defendable Space vs. Zero Cut
« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2007, 08:00:56 PM »
I believe they have something like that in place in Alaska. When I visited there '03 they were trying to get suburbanites to cut eveything within 150' of the house and move the firewood off the porch. Noncompliance meant no insurance.

Offline Cedarman

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Re: Defendable Space vs. Zero Cut
« Reply #2 on: July 03, 2007, 08:24:46 AM »
What kind of roofs did all these Lake Tahoe houses have?
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Offline kderby

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Re: Defendable Space vs. Zero Cut
« Reply #3 on: July 03, 2007, 09:42:18 AM »
Amen Gary!

Most anything is fuel to a fire,  even a treasured home.  I am away from the fire business now.  I can not emphasize enough the issue of fuels and defensible space.  For much of our forestland the question is not if it will burn but when.  As a culture we have set up fuel loads that will be haunting us for decades.  The mindset "If one tree is good, ten trees must be better." is just asking for trouble.

At my mill site I keep "fuels" separated by areas of open ground and I keep my slash cleaned up.  I expect one day I could have a fire.  When a fire starts, I want to isolate the fire, mitigate fire intensity and facilitate fire suppression.  I am glad to hear that insurance companies are paying attention to this also.  Again it is not a question of "if" but "when."

It is a lot of effort and cost but consider the alternative.....200 homes in Lake Tahoe just realized the cost of complacency.

Offline DWM II

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Re: Defendable Space vs. Zero Cut
« Reply #4 on: July 05, 2007, 08:21:05 AM »
I also saw  a segment on FoxNews Oreily factor one guys home was the only one in his subdivison that did not burn, he had been breaking the law and kept his yard free of under brush, cut trees out to 100' of his house. His insurance company ought to send him a gold star.  ;)
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Offline wmrussel

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Re: Defendable Space vs. Zero Cut
« Reply #5 on: July 07, 2007, 12:28:43 PM »
I believe they have something like that in place in Alaska. When I visited there '03 they were trying to get suburbanites to cut eveything within 150' of the house and move the firewood off the porch. Noncompliance meant no insurance.

This makes good sense, but seems that insurance is crossing yet another line.  Is it good for insurance to dictate how you landscape your yard?  I agree you should be able to remove as much fuel as you like, but giving the insurance companies this much power bothers me.  Of course, we're not 'giving' them power as much as they are 'taking' it.
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Offline GHRoberts

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Re: Defendable Space vs. Zero Cut
« Reply #6 on: July 07, 2007, 09:02:43 PM »
"Is it good for insurance to dictate how you landscape your yard?"

Insurance companies do not dictate these issues. They simply do not insure property that is not in compliance with their policies. Good business practice.

The property owner either clears the area or does not get insurance. Owner's choice.

Offline Gary_C

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Re: Defendable Space vs. Zero Cut
« Reply #7 on: July 08, 2007, 12:33:20 AM »
The problem in some of these communities is they have enacted rules that prohibit individual home owners from cutting any trees for any reason, ie. a zero cut policy. Apparently that was the frustration that one homeowner was expressing. Now those rules will be in conflict with insurance company new policies and will have to be changed or no more insurance.
Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.

Offline Rocky_Ranger

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Re: Defendable Space vs. Zero Cut
« Reply #8 on: July 08, 2007, 09:33:01 AM »
I've been on several large fires and some as an Agency Administrator.  What I’ve seen is some fire crews have to walk away from structure protection due to the amount of fuels around a house (and how fast the fire is approaching).  Others, if there is time, will initiate defensible space on their own by cutting and removing fuels (read: bushes, shrubs, small trees) so that decision is taken out of the homeowners hands and put into the fire crews.  How many fire crews do you think is sensitive to landscape management for homes?  Very few…… And the homeowners?  They were evacuated and are miles from the action.  I have had to deal with some irate folks coming home before but I always answer them with a question – would you rather have had your house burn than cut a few shrubs?
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Offline rebocardo

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Re: Defendable Space vs. Zero Cut
« Reply #9 on: July 08, 2007, 01:37:17 PM »
> I want to isolate the fire, mitigate fire intensity and facilitate fire suppression.

That reminds me, I have a few vines to take down on my house ...

I do stack my firewood in one cord lots, then separate each by 4-6 feet so I stand a chance of knocking a fire down. Then I separate my two major areas by at least 30 feet so if one side completely burns, I stand a chance of keeping the other one safe with a hose. I think keeping leaves off a firewood pile helps too. 

I try keep back the vines, wild rose, ivy, and kudzu, it takes a commitment.



Offline Tillaway

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Re: Defendable Space vs. Zero Cut
« Reply #10 on: July 08, 2007, 05:44:00 PM »
The Tahoe area does allow limited tree cutting.  The problem is that it requires very costly techniques.  One limit that was or maybe still is in place is that brush or trees cannot be drug across the ground and equipment cannot leave the surfaced road to do the work.  You have to pack it out to the road by hand.  A monocable yarding system was being used in that area some years back to fire safe around homes and lots.  The had to fully suspend each piece from the cable.

Fire insurance is not available to whole communities in Nor Cal.  This is something you would have to look into before you buy a home.  The town of Mineral for instance was uninsured, I worked on a DFPZ around that town so they could qualify... if the USFS actually let the contract to implement it.
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Offline slowzuki

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Re: Defendable Space vs. Zero Cut
« Reply #11 on: July 13, 2007, 09:30:14 AM »
Its such a foreign concept to someone like me, I live in such a wet area its rare to have rapid fires near any occupied areas because they are fairly easy to fight.  We do have forest fires, huge ones in the woods, but even they hit a swamp or such after a few miles.

Spring and fall brushfires are the rapidest and when more houses burn in more populated areas.

The last local forest fire came through in about 1940, still some huge burned stumps in the dryer areas.

Swampy's area has so much land in farm use it would be hard to have a giant fire there too I'd imagine.

Offline jpgreen

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Re: Defendable Space vs. Zero Cut
« Reply #12 on: July 14, 2007, 08:57:06 AM »
It took or takes an act of congress to get even a dead snag cut down that is looming near your house in Tahoe.  They are required to keep a minimum of 2" of pine needles on the ground right up to the building at all times. They will not even let these people remove bugkill pine without an EIR study.

The place is infested with tooth pic trees. This all for the chipmunk habitat.

These people are sic and need to be stopped.  I am praying that this time around it hit people with deep pockets so severly, that change will start to take affect, and common sence return.

Thank GOD I live in a county that promotes fire saftey, but these sic wacko enviromentaly sic assinine poor excuses for the human species still have a huge effect on forestry care and maintenance..  ::)
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Offline Phorester

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Re: Defendable Space vs. Zero Cut
« Reply #13 on: July 14, 2007, 09:43:29 AM »

Stop holding back, jpgreen, tell us how you really feel.  ;D

As I understand it, in Austrailia some local jurisdictions ask the homeowners to create defensible space around their homes.  If they don't do it, the jurisdiction does then charges the homeowner for the cost.
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Offline jpgreen

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Re: Defendable Space vs. Zero Cut
« Reply #14 on: July 14, 2007, 10:01:56 AM »
Don't get me started..  :D
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Offline snowman

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Re: Defendable Space vs. Zero Cut
« Reply #15 on: July 14, 2007, 11:06:50 AM »
I heard a report that the surrounding forest was supposed to be logged to clear out dead and dying trees from beetles but the enviros stopped it. This let the fire get way out of control and crowning as it hit the subdivision.Wash state has a huge beetle problem and is actually considering making a law that forces land owners to clean this junk up. As a rule I'm anti laws and anti gov but  this may be a rare instance where I agree. Ive spent the last 3 months at some land I own there logging bug trees. I'm milling the salvageable timber myself and sending the snags to the sawmill in Colville for pulp. My last load went out friday. $30.00 a ton and only 22 tons on a load stacked illeagelly high. After I pay $250 for the haul theres not much left for me but the snags are gone and I made a few bucks. :)

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Re: Defendable Space vs. Zero Cut
« Reply #16 on: July 14, 2007, 01:06:24 PM »
Even the dummest Indian knew not to put his teepee in a dry creek  bed.  Prepare because fire is inevetable, I have had several, being prepared has saved several pieces of equipment, not being prepared cost me everything I owned.
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