Fuel Modification is a strip of land between an improved property and wildlands, where combustible vegetation has been removed, thinned, or modified and may be partially or totally replaced with approved drought-tolerant, fire-resistant, and/or irrigated plants to provide an acceptable level of risk from vegetation fires. Fuel modification reduces radiant and convective heat, thereby reducing the amount of heat exposure on the roadway or structure and providing fire suppression personnel a safer area in which to take action. Fuel modification has proven to be a major factor in reducing fire spread onto structures from wildfires. When combined with special building requirements set forth in CBC Chapter 7A, the ignition of structures is further reduced.
As of January 1, 2023 Fuel Modification is required for the following:
- New construction
- 2,500 sq. ft. of new or relandscaping changes within a 12-month period.
- The construction of an addition, alteration, or repair that requires the installation of fire sprinklers per Section 903.2.
- Any structure that changes occupancy classification from any other class to Group R (residential) occupancy.
- Areas of new planting shall comply with Section 4906.8
- Targeted vegetation as shown in Appendix W, within 30 feet of any structure shall be removed.
- Areas of existing vegetation shall comply with the maintenance requirements of Section 4907.3.1.
- Relocate or remove combustible materials, such as organic mulch, non-fire resistive vegetation, and wood fences within 5 feet of any structure.
In addition to meeting the mandatory requirements for fuel modification, projects such as new construction, additions, and/or remodels with a building permit valuation of $1,000,000 or more, shall be required to implement additional measures intended to reduce the spread of fire. Examples of such measures include:
- Replacement of any existing exterior building element(s) to comply with CBC Chapter 7A.
- Removal of existing targeted vegetation listed in Appendix W, beyond 30 feet from any structure and replacing existing vegetation with new planting using native, drought tolerant, and fire resistant species.
Fuel Modification Submittal
Compliance of fuel modification requirements will be reviewed in collaboration with building and safety. Fuel Modification requirements shall be incorporated into the water efficientlandscape plan. Please submit two sets of plans to building and safety for review.
Fuel Modification Content
Fuel modification plans shall be drawn to scale, dimensioned, and include all main and accessory structures and new and existing vegetation on the property and identify each of the following:
- Delineation of 5 foot, 30 foot, 100 foot, and 200 foot fuel management areas from all structures.
- All property lines, setbacks, utility poles, easements, fire department access
- The topography of any slopes
- All vegetated and hardscaped areas
- Location and type of any public or private trees within 10 feet of property line
- A plant legend with common and scientific names and expected height and width at maturity of all new and existing vegetation
- Proposed irrigation systems
- Tree canopy distances from structures and other canopies
- Confirmation that no prohibited vegetation will be placed on the site.
- Confirmation that existing trees listed in Appendix W, within 30 feet of any structure are to be removed.
- Signed Fuel Modification Affidavit
Upon final approval of permit, the landscape architect shall inspect and certify installation of the vegetation in conformance to the approved plan.
Maintenance of vegetation on private property shall be ongoing and the responsibility of property owner per BHMC 4906.8.4
For more information, please view the Fuel Modification Guideline
For information on tree removals on private property, please first contact Community Development at 310.285.1411