An older home is no more immune to destruction by wildfire than is a new one. Its roof is certain to require repair or replacement eventually. When this time comes it is only good business as well as insurance for future fire safety to upgrade the fire protection rating of the materials used. The UBC and many local ordinances state that whenever 25 percent or more of a roof is replaced it must meet the standards for the fire zone in which it is located, and this is a good rule of thumb for use in wildfire hazardous areas (Building News, Inc. 1977; Intl. Conf. of Build. Off. 1976).
Even if vegetation is kept pruned and weeded, yards will collect a certain amount of flammable litter. Leaves and needles fall. Scrap paper blows in on the wind. All such material should be regularly collected and disposed of. In many areas they must be hauled away to an approved landfill either by a refuse disposal service or by the occupant because local air pollution regulations prohibit burning. In those areas where burning is permitted it should be done only in an approved incinerator under permit from the local fire protection agency. Open debris burning has caused a good many conflagrations in the past, although it has been somewhat rare in the past 10 or 12 years due to recent restrictions and controls (Alger 1971).
Because of natural plant succession, clearances
around structures for fire protection will most invariably revert to native vegetation unless positive steps are
taken to maintain the clearance. Maintenance can be
accomplished in several ways: by skillful use of herbicides, by browsing and grazing livestock, by disking,
by hand chopping or grubbing, or by prescribed burning
Many people living in wildfire hazardous areas keep horses and some keep cattle or sheep. Research by the United States Forest Service and California Department of Forestry has shown that goats enjoy a diet of chaparral and are very effective at maintaining fuelbreaks. Horses, cattle, and sheep are primarily grazers and will only browse on very young succulent chaparral but are good at reducing the fuel loading of dry grass. The method or combination of methods used is not important as long as thought and effort are put into maintaining the fire protective qualities of the clearing (Orange County Bd. Sup. 1976, Los Angeles County 1973, Green 1977).
Proposed Standards: Remove and dispose of all dead vegetative and other flammable material, in amounts which will carry ground fire or convey fire from one bush or tree to another, by means permitted by State law and local ordinance.
Proposed Standards: Store flammable materials either: