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Reduce your risk from wildfires

Year after year, wildfires continue to burn across the Western states. In 2020, more than 100 fires have burned over 6.6 million acres and destroyed thousands of buildings in Northern California, Oregon and Washington.

Wildfires have been around for thousands of years and can happen almost anywhere, causing catastrophic damage to property. The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) has basic risk control techniques any organization can use to help prepare for wildfires.

Defensible space

To reduce the opportunity for wildfire to reach your building, create and maintain a defensible space.

Zone 1: 0-5 feet from your building

  • Do not have vegetation in this space and use materials such as gravel, brick or concrete adjacent to building.
  • Do not store combustible materials such as outside furniture, trash cans, play equipment or other items in this zone.
  • Select exterior wall cladding made of noncombustible siding materials such as concrete and brick.
  • Ensure the start of siding is a minimum of 6 inches above the ground.

Zone 2: 5-30 feet from your building

  • Remove all shrubs under trees, prune branches that overhang your roof or gutters, thin trees and remove all dead vegetation.
  • Keep propane tanks at least 30 feet away from buildings and build defensible space around them.

Window Hazards

  • Use multi-pane, tempered glass windows and close them when a wildfire threat is near.

Gutter/Vent/Eave Hazards

  • Clean out the gutters regularly and use noncombustible covers.
  • Vents should have at least a 1/8” mesh cover to prevent embers from entering the building.
    • “Box in” open eaves to prevent embers or flames from entering.
    • Select gutters and downspouts made of noncombustible materials such as aluminum.

Roof Hazards

  • Remove all debris on the roof, which often can collect in roof valleys, dormers, vents, skylights and chimneys.
  • Class A fire-rated roofing products will offer the best protection during a wildfire.

Reduce vegetative fuel

  • Create a vegetation maintenance plan to reduce ignition sources.
  • If using plants around the building, select ones with low combustibility characteristics such as high moisture content, low oil or resin content, deep roots with thick heavy leaves, and minimal production of dead vegetation.

You should also check fire hydrants to ensure they are located no more than 250 feet from the primary buildings and are connected to a reliable public or private water source.

Church Mutual partners with IBHS to help protect organizations from natural disasters, such as wildfires, and offer industry-leading research to ensure the safety of your people. For additional info on wildfire risk control techniques, visit

For additional fire safety and preparedness content, take a look at our latest edition of Risk Reporter.