Wildland-Urban Interface

Wildland-Urban Interface Fire Areas

A Wildland-Urban Interface Area is a geographical area where improved property intersects with wildland or vegetative fuels; those areas in the City will either be defined as a Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone or a Hazard Reduction Zone. If your home or business is located within a Wildland-Urban Interface Area, certain Building Code regulations will apply to new, rebuilt or significantly remodeled structures.

View the Wildland-Urban Interface Fire Area Map to find out if your property is located within a Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone or Hazard Reduction Zone.

Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zones

In the City of Newport Beach, Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zones are geographical areas designated in accordance with California Government Code Section 51179 and by City of Newport Beach ordinance. The ordinance contains the type and condition of vegetation, topography, climate, and structure density, which potentially increases the possibility of uncontrolled fire spread through vegetative fuels threatening life or property.

If your property is located within a Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone, certain regulations apply. Refer to the following for more detailed information:

  • Chapter 49 of the California Fire Code including Newport Beach Municipal Code Title 9.04.090 Amendments to Chapter 49 - Requirements for Wildland Urban Interface Fire Areas

Vegetation Management

The Newport Beach Fire Department Fire Prevention Division administers three different vegetation management programs that help in the prevention of a vegetation wildland fire from entering our community. The three programs are Weed Abatement, Hazard Reduction and Fuel Modification.

Weed Abatement

The purpose of the weed abatement program is to reduce potential fire hazards due to the accumulation of weeds, dry vegetation, and or rubbish.

Currently there are 82 properties located throughout the City in the weed abatement program that is coordinated by Fire Prevention staff. These inspections are conducted by Fire Operations staff once per year, starting in the beginning of May. Homeowners, landowners or property managers should comply with the vegetation requirements by the first week of May to avoid receiving a non-compliance letter. 

If your home or business is located within a designated weed abatement parcel, please refer to the City of Newport Beach Municipal Code Section 10.48 Weed and Rubbish Abatement. 

Hazard Reduction Zone

A Hazard Reduction Zone is defined as any geographical area designated by the Fire Chief in which structures directly abut a wildland space on one or more sides.

There are approximately 260 parcels that are designated as Hazard Reduction Zones. Fire Prevention staff conducts these inspections on an annual basis. Upper, Middle, and Lower Buck Gully, including Big Canyon, Morning Canyon and Newport Coast, are areas determined as a Hazard Reduction Zone.

If your home or business is located within a Hazard Reduction Zone, certain regulations apply. Please refer to the following for more detailed information:

Homeowners, landowners or property managers shall comply with the vegetation requirements by the last week of May to avoid receiving a non-compliance letter. Inspections conducted by the Fire Prevention staff begin the first week of June.

Fuel Modification Zone

A Fuel Modification Zone is defined as a specific area where vegetation has been removed, planted, or modified in conjunction with an approved fuel modification plan that increases the likelihood that a structure will survive a wildfire, improve the defensible space around the structure for firefighting activities, and prevents direct flame contact with structures.

Vegetation includes native and ornamental plants, non-native naturalized grasses, and other invasive or naturalized species. Fuel modification activities can include removal, partial or total replacement of existing plants with adequately spaced drought-tolerant and fire-resistive species and thinning of existing native or ornamental species.

Fire Prevention staff conducts inspections in the spring and fall of each year. In the spring season, there are two separate cycles due to the NCCP (Gnat Catcher) Habitat. First the communities of Pelican Crest I and II shall comply with the vegetation requirements by the first week of February. The balance of the communities must comply by the end of May to avoid receiving a non-compliance letter. In the fall season, the Fuel Modification requirements for all homeowner associations must be completed by the last week of September to avoid receiving a non-compliance letter, including Pelican Crest I and II.

Fuel Modification Zones were provided by the developer and approved by the Fire Authority having jurisdiction during the original development of the tract. Fuel Modification Zones provide two necessary things that help in preventing the spread of fire: (1) distance to prevent direct flame impingement and (2) a reduced fuel load to remove the heat (BTUs) from the fire as it gets closer to the structure.

Currently, there are 24 developments or communities that are required to maintain Fuel Modification Zones. Typically Fuel Modification Zones extend 170 feet away from the rear property line. Within those 170 feet there are four zones that have different specifications to prevent fire from entering or exiting a community. Below is a quick summary of the four zones:

  1. A Zone - Typically 20-feet in depth and within a homeowner’s parcel. Only non-combustible construction is allowed in the   A Zone. Flat level ground and irrigation required. Vegetation proposed must be from the approved plant list.
  2. B Zone - Typically 50-feet in depth. Irrigation is required and vegetation proposed must be from the approved plant list. Construction material in this zone, if approved, shall conform to California Building Code Chapter 7A.
  3. C Zone - Typically 50-feet in depth. 50% thinning of natural or existing vegetation and removal of all dead and dying. No irrigation required.
  4. D Zone (where applicable) - Typically 50-feet in depth. 30% thinning of natural or existing vegetation and removal of all dead and dying. No irrigation required.

If your home or business is located within a community that has Fuel Modification, certain regulations apply. Please refer to the following for more detailed information:

Types of Vegetation

Wildland-Urban Interface Fire Areas have special requirements for new and existing vegetation. For more detailed information, refer to the Newport Beach Fire Department’s Fire Resistive and Undesirable Species List.

 

 

Photo of WUI area on fire 

 

~ Safety, Service, Professionalism ~

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