Defensible Space

fireman-gc1eca508a_1280As a California homeowner you may be hearing about the AB 38 Defensible Space home inspection and home hardening recently. If you’re not sure what this mean, you’ve come to the right place. Rancho Cal Insurance Services is here to help you understand home hardening and defensible space and how these things work together to protect your home from a wildfire, as well as how you can request an AB 38 Defensible Space home inspection.

Defensible Space Inspection

Assembly Bill 38 (AB 38) states that as of July 1, 2021, when you sell a property in California that is located in a high or very high fire hazard severity zone, you will need documentation of a compliant Defensible Space Inspection.

For Riverside County residents, check out the CAL FIRE website (see Resources below) to find the Inspection Request document. LA County, Orange County, Santa Barbara County, and Ventura County will use a different link on this same site for their inspection request. Links on this website can also help you determine if your home will need a Defensible Space Inspection. Who does the inspection will be determined by if your home is located in a State Responsibility Area (SRA) or located in a Local Responsibility Area (LRA).

Note that some local ordinances in your city or county may have additional requirements for defensible space. You can check with your local fire department to see what local ordinances apply in your area.

Home Hardening: Ways to Make Your Home More Fire Resistant

  • Roof: Choose a roof material that is fire resistant, such as composition, metal, tile, or clay.
  • Vents: Cover all vent openings with 1/16″ or 1/8″ metal mesh.
  • Eaves & Soffits: Should be boxed in and protected with non-combustible materials.
  • Windows: Use dual pane windows that have one pane of tempered glass and screens.
  • Walls: Use ignition resistant building materials such as stucco, cement fiber wall siding, or other approved materials.
  • Decks & Fencing: Use ignition resistant, non-combustible & approved materials.
  • Rain Gutters: Keep them clear from debris and install non-combustible covers.

Defensible Space Zones: What Are They?

The area immediately surrounding your home is your defensible space (zone) from a wild fire. Currently, there are 2 zones.  Zone 1 is the space thirty feet around your home and Zone 2  is the space 30-100 feet around your home. There will be a new Zone 0, for the 0-5 feet around your home, which will be implemented by January 1, 2023 (re Assembly Bill 3074).

  • Zone 0: Ember-Resistant Zone. Use hardscaping and non-combustible materials in this zone. Plants should be low growing and no branches within 10 feet of a chimney.
  • Zone 1: Lean, Clean, and Green Zone. Make sure there are no dead plants, or dry leaves. Trim trees to keep branches a minimum of 10 feet from other trees. Remove flammable plants & shrubs.
  • Zone 2: Reduce Fuel Zone. Specific requirements for vertical and horizontal spacing between shrubs and trees, and for clearance of exposed wood piles. See the CAL FIRE website for further explanation and diagrams.


  • Request a Defensible Space Inspection:
  • CAL FIRE Homeowners Checklist:

Owning a home, buying a home, or selling a home in California can be challenging. We are here to help you with your home insurance and help you to understand home hardening guidelines and the Defensible Space home inspection. Rancho Cal Insurance Services serves the state of California and our friends & neighbors in Temecula, Murrieta, Winchester, and Menifee, everyday with their home, auto, and business insurance.