Defensible Space

Many portions of the unincorporated areas of the County of San Diego share expansive, rural settings of native plant life.  Fire is an important factor in maintaining the healthy status of these native plant species.  Since these areas are also highly desirable places in which to live, maintaining a defensible fire space around structures is essential, and required, for protection against fire.  This information will provide you with some helpful hints to assist you in defending your property.

Following wildfire events—most notably the 2003 and 2007 firestorms—it was evident that insufficient "Defensible Space" on many properties contributed to destroyed homes and other structures.  As a result, the County of San Diego has amended an ordinance that requires residents to keep their property free of fire hazards: including certain vegetation types, green waste and rubbish.  Residents can comply with this ordinance by creating a "Defensible Space" around their homes and by taking other preventative steps on their property.

Defensible space is an area either natural or man-made, where material capable of allowing a fire to spread unchecked has been treated, cleared, or modified to slow the rate and intensity of an advancing wildfire and to create an area for fire suppression operations to occur.



Some San Diego County residents may have received a courtesy letter to inform and educate property owners within San Diego County of the requirements for defensible space around their structures. This letter is not a citation and is intended to be educational. In the next few months your local fire agency may be inspecting properties to ensure that the proper defensible space is in place. To view a copy of this letter, please click below.

Defensible Space Letter

There is a strong possibility fire agencies will be out doing inspections on properties in your area.

Resources to help you prepare:


  • Defensible Space Assistance Program
  • Ready San Diego: Wildland Fire
  • Equipment Use Safety
  • Defensible Space: Frequently Asked Questions
  • Combustibility of Landscape Mulches
  • Help Your Trees Survive the Drought
  • Fire, Defensible Space, and You
  • Prepare for Wildfire - Defensible Space

    For assistance, please call (858)974-5999

    California Fire Prevention Fees



    Are you concerned about how the drought is affecting your defensible space? Check out the Drought and Defensible Space Flyer to get more information on vegetation that you can plant around your home that is fire retardant and safe!