Defensible Space Inspections Can Save Lives

If you live in unincorporated Butte County, this information is for you! Defensible space inspections are required by law to make sure you’re doing all you can to protect your home and property from wildfire. 

What is a defensible space inspection?

Defensible space inspections are official visits, conducted by fire safety experts, intended to make sure your home and property are in compliance with wildfire prevention measures required by Butte County. 

Why do we need defensible space inspections?

We do our best at Be Ready, Butte! to make sure everyone in our community understands how to properly protect their homes and property from wildfire properly. But there’s nothing like being assured by an expert that you’re doing everything right.

When do inspections happen?

Depending on the weather, inspections can happen nearly year-round. To alert you, inspectors notify your area before arriving. It’s good practice to ensure you’re ready by early spring, so you can be sure your property is in compliance on your first inspection.

Please note that an inspection is required when selling a home located in high or very high fire zones in Butte County, but there are also scheduled inspections to ensure compliance with county ordinances. Follow @CALFIRE_ButteCo on Twitter to find out when inspections will happen in your area.

What happens during a defensible space inspection?

Butte County Defensible Space Requirements Checklist

The defensible space inspection is a straightforward process in which a licensed CAL FIRE inspector works with a checklist of requirements. Here are a few of them:

  • Total defensible space and firebreaks relative to the size of your property
  • No flammable material within five feet of your home
  • The first five feet of fencing touching your home should be non-flammable material
  • Sufficient horizontal and vertical space between plantings and trees
  • Height of weeds and annual grasses
  • Presence of dead leaves, debris, and pine needles on roofs and in gutters
  • Distance of tree branches from your home
  • Proper storage of firewood and gas tanks
  • Evacuation route access

How can I prepare for my defensible space inspection?

As we say at Be Ready, Butte, “You have to GET ready to BE ready.” In this case, that means reading up on our county requirements and making sure your home and property meet them.

Below are official checklists to better understand and prepare for what inspectors are looking for when they visit.

Most importantly, be sure to leave gates open/unlocked when inspectors are expected in your area.  This prevents an initial “fail” and will allow inspectors to be efficient and orderly.  It also helps minimize revisits and expedites the process across the county.  

  • Learn more about defensible space here.
  • View the Butte County defensible space requirements here to learn more about what the inspectors will be looking for. 
  • You can also take a self-assessment quiz of your existing defensible space to see how you’re doing and what other steps you can take to be in compliance.

If you’re unsure about anything, the Butte County Cooperative Fire Agencies are always there to help. Email questions/concerns to or call (530) 538-7888.