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Fire Department News

Posted on: July 29, 2021

Wildfire Ready: Understanding the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI)

House in WUI

The Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) is defined as areas where homes and buildings are built near or among lands prone to wildland fire. The WUI is a geographical area, not a place. In Santa Rosa, we also refer to the portions of the City in the WUI as the WUI Zone or Wildland Urban Interface Fire AreaIt is important to understand what conditions make up the WUI and to learn different ways to reduce the threat of wildfires around your property and how to protect your home. 

The WUI is the area where structures and development meet or intermingle with undeveloped wildland or vegetative fuels.  Santa Rosa’s WUIs were identified and adopted by City Council in 2009 and have been directly threatened and impacted by wildfires since 2017.  By designating these areas as the WUI through a local City Ordinance, it allows us to require construction that offers a higher level of protection from wildfires. Most of the homes in the path of the Tubbs, Nuns, and Glass Fire burn scars were built prior to these regulations.  

Homes that were rebuilt in the WUI following the recent fires have been designed and constructed to the current standards and requirements. Homes built prior to 2008 and located in the WUI should be evaluated for improvements that can be made to them. In addition to the home itself, the area around the home should be reviewed.  Efforts taken in the Home Ignition Zone (HIZ) is another way to limit the spread of wildland fires in the WUI. The HIZ includes the fuels within the 100 ft to 200 ft area surrounding the home.

Since most homes damaged or destroyed by wildfires are first ignited by embers, reducing the susceptibility of ember cast immediately around the home and in the HIZ is essential.  Use our Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) Fire Area Address Look Up Tool to search for an address to find out if it is in the City’s WUI and use our Property Owner Resource Library at srcity.org/WildfireReady and review our Firewise Communities: Wildland-Urban Interface Fire Hazards article and other related links to make your home and HIZ wildfire ready.  

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