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Stop fire ladders

Home Evaluation Tip

Vegetation may create a “fire ladder” and carry flames from the ground to other, taller vegetation. Create separation by pruning or removing the ladder vegetation, or raising the height of the lowest limbs of the nearby tree.

What is a fire ladder?

A fire ladder is vegetation that allows fire to spread up from the landscape into a tree. Common ladder fuels include tall grasses, shrubs, and tree branches, both living and dead. The removal of fire ladders is part of creating defensible space.

What do I do about it?

  1. Prune low limbs up to a minimum of 6 feet, and potentially as high as 10 feet (but no more than â…“ of the height of the tree). It is important to remove limbs correctly so as not to harm the health of the tree. Know the time of year and how to prune trees for best results.
  2. Trees on slopes require the limbs to be pruned higher or spaced further apart.
  3. Shrubs and tall grass need to be cut to prevent fire spread.
  4. Woodpiles, wooden fence posts, and structures can also be considered ladder fuels.
  5. Sign up for Chipper Days for free vegetation removal.
Diagram of minimum vertical clearance
Diagram of minimum horizontal clearance

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