Wildfire Protection

Oregon Fire Protection in the Wildland Urban Interface

This state law requires landowners to reduce potentially flammable vegetation from around homes and other structures. Not all homes in Jackson and Josephine counties are affected by this law; the law focuses on residential lands located in wildfire-prone areas, typically outside of cities.

Below is a list of maps of the forestland-urban interface areas in Josephine County. The maps are large and detailed. The shaded areas are the forestland-urban interface areas classified in 2008; the ones that aren’t shaded are the areas being added to classification this year. Refer to the legend on each map for the fire risk classification ratings. If you aren’t sure which maps shows the area you’re looking for, see the map that displays the entire county and the names of the localized maps.

Below is a list of forestland-urban interface maps for Jackson County. These maps were created in 2011, the last time the county was classified:

What is a self-certification form?

This form is mailed to the owners of land included in forestland-urban interface areas. Once the landowner has satisfactorily reduced potentially flammable vegetation around the home and other structures, the form may be mailed to the Oregon Department of Forestry. These forms are mailed to landowners in 5-year increments.

Why is it important to return a self-certification form?

While there are no tickets or fines associated with this law, a property owner may be billed by the state to recover fire suppression costs if:

  • A self-certification form is not received by ODF prior to the start of the fire.
  • The fire originates on the landowner’s property.
  • The fire spreads through parts of the property where fuel reduction should have been done.
  • The fire escapes initial attack and the state pays suppression costs above what is normally budgeted for initial attack.

The fire cost recovery penalty cannot exceed $100,000.

How to get a replacement self-certification form

It isn’t unusual for the original self-certification form to get lost. A replacement form can be had by calling the Oregon Dept. of Forestry office in your county. See the list of offices in the right-hand column of this page.

When does ODF normally send out new self-certification forms?

Every five years, the Oregon Dept. of Forestry works with the county to review the maps of lands included in forestland-urban interface areas. When that process is complete, ODF mails new self-certification forms to landowners. A new self-certification form is also mailed to people who purchase land within wildfire hazard areas; it is the obligation of the seller of the land to notify the buyer that he or she must contact ODF for a new self-certification form. It is also necessary for a landowner to contact ODF for a new self-certification form if a structure is added to the property.

What are the fuel-reduction requirements?

In Jackson and Josephine counties, vegetation fuel should be reduced within 50 feet of a home and other structures. If the structure has a cedar shake roof, the size of the fuel break needs to be 100 feet. Driveways must be accessible to emergency vehicles, which means overhanging obstructions must be cleared to a height of 13 1/2 feet and a width of 12 feet, and grass, brush and dead vegetation must be cleared at least 10 horizontal feet on each side of the driveway’s centerline. During the months of summer, firewood and lumber piles must be placed at least 20 feet from the home and other structures, or put inside an enclosed shed. Flammable material must be removed from beneath decks. Tree branches must be trimmed at least 10 feet away from a chimney, and dead branches overhanging the roof must be removed.

For detailed instructions, use one of the evaluation forms below. The forms provide specific advice according to the fire-risk classification (Extreme, High or Moderate) for your area.

What is defensible space?

When potentially flammable vegetation is reduced around a home, firefighters can more effectively defend the home against a wildfire. Without defensible space, firefighters may not be able to safely approach the home.

What is fuel?

Fuel is anything that can burn. Examples are tree needles and leaves, dead trees and shrubs, dry grass, firewood and lumber piles, cedar shake roofing and, of course, cans of gasoline and other petroleum products. Most healthy trees don’t burn very well unless there is something beneath them that burns easily and produces a lot of heat for a long time. For example, blackberries surrounded by tall, dry grass can generate sufficient heat to make trees burn. To protect the trees, remove the blackberries and mow the tall, dry grass. Also, stacks of firewood or lumber beneath trees can ignite easily and burn with high intensity for a long time. Putting the firewood or lumber inside of a shed that can be fully enclosed during summer (when wildfires are more likely to occur) protects the trees, the firewood and the lumber. Gasoline and other petroleum products should always be kept in an enclosed building.

What is a fuel break?

This is an area where flammable fuel has been removed or reduced to a degree that discourages the easy transfer of fire from point-to-point. A wildfire moves quickly through an area where fuel is available and continuous. Removing vegetation fuel makes it unavailable, but it isn’t always necessary — or advisable — to completely remove vegetation fuel; thinning thickets of trees and brush disrupts fuel continuity, reducing the likelihood that fire will move easily across the landscape. Fuel breaks are commonly used along roadsides, property lines and around homes and other structures. Defensible space around a home is created when a fuel break has been established around the home’s perimeter.

Are there other wildfire protection laws in southwestern Oregon?

Both Jackson and Josephine counties have ordinances that require fuel breaks around homes, as well as construction and fuel break standards for driveways. These ordinances apply to new construction within a designated wildfire hazard zone. Also, several cities have codes that require residents to mow tall grass and weeds during summer; call your city fire department or code enforcement office for more information.

Other sources for wildfire protection information

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