City of Ashland, Oregon / Fire / FAQ / Wildfire Hazard Zone

FAQ - Fire
Wildfire Hazard Zone

Q: How will the Wildfire Hazard Zone expansion affect homeowners?

A: 

If nothing is done to change the structures or property, there is nothing that will be required of you from this ordinance. If any of the following changes occur, this ordinance will affect you:

 

-Increase the square footage of your home build more than 200 square feet OR build a new structure more than  200 square feet and need a permit. If either of these situations apply, you will need to comply with the primary and secondary fuel break standards.

-If you partition or subdivide your property, you will be required to prepare and implement a Fire Prevention and Control Plan which is includes fuels reduction on all parcels.

-If you are replacing 50% or more of the roof, the roof is required be a non-wood, Class A or B fire-rated roofing material.



Here's a link to "Requirements for Constructing Structures in the Wildfire Hazard Zone." See 18.3.10.100. For partitions of lots/subdivisions, owners will have to provide and implement a Fire Prevention and Control Plan detailing vegetation/fuels reduction, as appropriate. The link above has information regarding "Requirements for Subdivisions, Performance Standards Developments, or Partitions."

 

For more information, contact .


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Q: Is there a list of landscapers experienced in Firewise landscaping?

A: You can find a list of contractors and landscapers who have completed our Firewise landscaping class at: http://www.ashland.or.us/Page.asp?NavID=14121


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Q: How will this affect me as a new WHZ landowner?

A: 

As a new landowner in the WHZ, if nothing is done to change the structures or property, there is nothing that will be required of you from this ordinance. If any of the following changes occur, this ordinance will affect you:

 

-Increase the square footage of your home build more than 200 square feet OR build a new structure more than  200 square feet and need a permit. If either of these situations apply, you will need to comply with the primary and secondary fuel break standards.

-If you partition or subdivide your property, you will be required to prepare and implement a Fire Prevention and Control Plan which is includes fuels reduction on all parcels.

-If you are replacing 50% or more of the roof, the roof is required be a non-wood, Class A or B fire-rated roofing material.



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Q: Will the WHZ increase my insurance?

A: No, there is not a fee associated with being in the WHZ


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Q: When do you see the WHZ expansion being approved, and what is the next step?

A: The goal is to get the WHZ expansion approved before the 2016 fire season. The current track is to bring a final version of the ordinance to the City Council in the beginning of April 2016. Study Sessions with the Wildfire Mitigation, Tree and Planning Commissions were completed in December 2016. Comments from these sessions are currently being compiled and a final draft ordinance will most likely be completed by the beginning of February 2016.


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Q: If an addition is created, does that mean all landscaping needs to be replaced?

A: If an addition of 200 square feet or more is is created, a fire official will perform an inspection to determine if there is adequate defensible space around the entire structure. When inspecting the landscaping, there are a few things that will be assessed:

  • Does your structure have a defensible space (fire break), including a 30ft buffer area this is free of fire-prone vegetation?
  • Are trees limbed up 10ft above the roof line and chimney and away from exterior walls?
  • Are ladder fuels removed? Ladder fuels are flammable plants that let fire transition from the ground to tallest vegetation, usually trees. Ladder fuels are typically shrubs or lower branches.
  • Is vegetation property spaced?
  • Is fire-prone vegetation present?
If any of these items are not present, removal of some vegetation will likely need to be completed before construction can begin.

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Q: How will this affect my landscaping?

A: If you are not adding an addition on your home or building a new structure over 200 square feet this ordinance will not affect your landscaping. The ordinance only affects new construction over 200 square feet that is being permitted through the City's Planning and Building Departments. The vast majority of citizens won’t be affected by this, though we encourage Ashland's residents to engage in preventative mitigation on their own and through our Firewise Communities program. 

Some changes required during new construction will be that shake roofs are not allowed, and incorporating only fire-resistant plants in the first 30 feet (depending on slope it could be larger). An secondary fuel break will be created from 30 feet to 130 feet (if applicable) from all structures with spacing requirements for fire-prone vegetation.

To see a list of fire-resistant plants visit, http://www.ashland.or.us/firewiselandscaping.

 


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Q: Is there a minimum change in structure square footage that requires a change to fire-resistant landscaping?

A: An addition of 200 square feet or greater to a structure that requires a permit, including adding an additional floor; will prompt a landscaping inspection. Simply replacing an existing deck or patio with the same footprint will not require a landscaping inspection. Adding a new deck or patio will require an inspection.


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Q: Fireworks are dangerous, what are Ashland’s rules on the use of fireworks in the city?

A: The use of retail fireworks, sparklers, and sky lanterns are prohibited throughout the year within the City of Ashland. See Ashland Municipal Code 15.28-070(C). Ashland Fire & Rescue is asking residents to comply with the ordinance in an effort to reduce fires, injuries and the risk to our city’s natural resources. 
 
The use of any spark producing item which causes a fire is always prohibited. You can be held financially responsible for fire damage and the costs of fire suppression caused by negligent use of fireworks. 
There are three items commonly referred to as fireworks, but are considered "unclassified" items that Ashland residents may legally use:

  • Smoke bombs
  • Snakes
  • Party poppers


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Q: Will there be funds to help landowners with the cost of fire-resistant landscaping and/or roof replacement?

A: Currently, there are no funds available to replace landscaping and wood roofing. However, there is a program through the City of Ashland called Water Wise. The new Water Wise Landscaping website is designed to inspire the creation of landscapes that incorporate native species and other water wise plants that are not only attractive, but are capable of using less water than traditional lawns. It serves as a virtual demonstration garden that showcases examples from local residents as well as provides useful information and resources on water efficient gardening concepts. The program assists with funding to remove your green-grassy area and replace it with a drought-resistant landscaping. http://www.ashlandsaveswater.org/.
(Note: There are a few plants/trees on the native species list above that are fire prone.)
 


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Q: Where can I find fire-resistant landscaping?

A: You can find a number of fire-resistant landscaping resources at www.ashlandfirewise.org. Resources include: 



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Q: When building an addition, where does a fuels reduction assessment need to be done?

A: When an addition is made, the landscaping is assessed around the entire structure, not just the side the addition is taking place. This primary fuel break (defensible space) is 30ft of space immediately around the home and secondary fuel break can extend as far as 130ft-170ft depending on the slope of the lot. Creating and maintaining these zones will reduce or eliminate ignition hazards presented by vegetation (by thinning fire prone trees, creating spacing between tree canopies, removing and pruning trees and shrubs). Modifications may not be needed, may be small, or may be extensive depending on how firesafe the current landscaping is.


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Q: What are the benefits of expanding the WHZ?

A: It is recommended that the Wildfire Hazard Zone (WHZ) be increased to include all of the City of Ashland. Doing so will enhance several elements of the fire safety strategy of the city. The City will be able to regulate roof coverings to those appropriate for a community adjacent to and containing wildland fuels. Currently flammable wood product roof coverings are allowed outside of the WHZ. The City will also be able to regulate landscape profiles for new construction that lend themselves to a low intensity fire behavior with far less spread potential. Currently vegetation that produces severe fire behavior and spread such as juniper, cypress, blackberries, and arborvitae are allowed unrestricted outside of the WHZ. Both roof coverings and hazardous landscape fuels were a major factor in the destruction of 11 homes in the 2010 Oak Knoll fire. Properties in wildfire zones are often the only ones that qualify for hazardous fuel mitigation grants that are developed. Expanding the WHZ would allow more properties to apply for grant funds to help with fuels reduction and creating defensible spaces.



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Q: Will the WHZ increase my taxes?

A: No, landowners who are being incorporated into the WHZ will not see a rise in taxes because of the WHZ expansion.


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