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Defensible Space Program

The goal of the program is to create defensible space on City owned open space following the guidelines set by National Fire Protection Association (firewise.org), the Park City Emergency Director and under the direction of the Trails and Open Space Department. All work performed should be in accordance with PCMC Municipal code 11-21, Utah Wildland-Urban Interface Code.

Defensible space work is performed on City owned open space adjacent to homes/structures on private property in the Park City area. The program was created because some homes do not own the entire property that makes up the 100 foot defensible space zone. Work is strictly limited to city owned property that falls inside of the 100-foot zone of structures on private property and prioritized according to the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire & State Lands’ Wildfire Risk Assessment Data.

While we work to create defensible space on city owned property it is vital that private homeowners continue the work onto their property. Below are the guidelines set by the National Fire Protection Association (firewise.org).

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Immediate zone

The home and the area 0-5’ from the furthest attached exterior point of the home; defined as a non-combustible area.  Science tells us this is the most important zone to take immediate action on as it is the most vulnerable to embers. START WITH THE HOUSE ITSELF then move into the landscaping section of the Immediate Zone.

  • Clean roofs and gutters of dead leaves, debris and pine needles that could catch embers.
  • Replace or repair any loose or missing shingles or roof tiles to prevent ember penetration.
  • Reduce embers that could pass through vents in the eaves by installing 1/8 inch metal mesh screening.
  • Clean debris from exterior attic vents and install 1/8 inch metal mesh screening to reduce embers.
  • Repair or replace damaged or loose window screens and any broken windows Screen or box-in areas below patios and decks with wire mesh to prevent debris and combustible materials from accumulating.
  • Move any flammable material away from wall exteriors – mulch, flammable plants, leaves and needles, firewood piles – anything that can burn. Remove anything stored underneath decks or porches. 

    Intermediate zone

    5-30’ from the furthest exterior point of the home. Landscaping/hardscaping- employing careful landscaping or creating breaks that can help influence and decrease fire behavior

  • Clear vegetation from under large stationary propane tanks.
  • Create fuel breaks with driveways, walkways/paths, patios, and decks.
  • Keep lawns and native grasses mowed to a height of four inches.
  • Remove ladder fuels (vegetation under trees) so a surface fire cannot reach the crowns.  Prune trees up to six to ten feet from the ground; for shorter trees do not exceed 1/3 of the overall tree height.
  • Space trees to have a minimum of eighteen feet between crowns with the distance increasing with the percentage of slope.
  • Tree placement should be planned to ensure the mature canopy is no closer than ten feet to the edge of the structure.

Tree and shrubs in this zone should be limited to small clusters of a few each to break up the continuity of the vegetation across the landscape.

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Extended zone

30-100 feet, out to 200 feet. Landscaping – the goal here is not to eliminate fire but to interrupt fire’s path and keep flames smaller and on the ground.

  • Dispose of heavy accumulations of ground litter/debris.
  • Remove dead plant and tree material.
  • Remove small conifers growing between mature trees.
  • Remove vegetation adjacent to storage sheds or other outbuildings within this area.
  • Trees 30 to 60 feet from the home should have at least 12 feet between canopy tops.
  • Trees 60 to 100 feet from the home should have at least 6 feet between the canopy tops.