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Oregon Defensible Space Code

Based on robust stakeholder feedback from an earlier version of the wildfire risk map, the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) and other state agencies are revising their timeline for implementing key components of Senate Bill 762, including the wildfire risk map. 
The changes come as Oregon communities work to make their homes and neighborhoods more resilient to the increased risk of wildfire statewide. Read the ODF news release here.

Revised Timeline

October - February 2023: State agencies will engage the public and stakeholders with outreach and education. This includes engaging with and informing Oregonians on safety measures to preserve life and property during wildfires. Agencies will conduct one-on-one outreach to areas most vulnerable to catastrophic wildfires and identify opportunities for investments in wildfire prevention. Completing language for building codes and defensible space codes. The ODF will review appeals received and share feedback received for wildfire risk map adjustments as needed.   

March 1, 2023: The ODF will launch a new draft wildfire risk map and solicit stakeholder and public feedback.  

March 2023 - September 2023: State agencies will host public outreach, engagement, and education on the draft wildfire risk map. This includes working with the ODF, the OSU College of Forestry, local governments, planning departments, the Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal (OSFM), and the Building Codes Division (BCD) to review the draft map. These agencies will outreach to and educate the affected communities and local governments.

October 2023 - December 2023: The final wildfire risk map will be shared publicly for implementation, initiating a 60-day appeals process, and notifying those in high-risk areas about the steps needed to protect their homes and properties from catastrophic wildfires and how to meet standards and building codes. The revised plan and timeline will be in collaboration with Oregon State University’s College of Forestry, the OSFM, the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development, and the Department of Consumer and Business Services.

Research by the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety shows simple steps to better protect homes and communities when wildfires occur. Steps include creating defensible space, home hardening, and large-scale fuel reduction projects. Senate Bill 762 directs the state to ensure communities identified in the highest-risk areas are adhering to building code and defensible space code guided by public input, not to be adopted or implemented until the wildfire risk map is finalized in late 2023. 

The OSFM will offer funding to support communities in creating defensible space programs and support landowners to complete the work.   

Oregon Defensible Space Code Development Process

Under Senate Bill 762, the OSFM is mandated to adopt statewide minimum defensible space standards. The OSFM is using its current code development and adoption process. Development is underway and additional meetings will be announced here. Agencies, interest groups, and individuals are welcome to provide input during the adoption process. 

The OSFM and stakeholders are following the established code adoption process using the International Wildland-Urban Interface Code model language, using sections 603 and 604 per the Senate Bill 762 mandate. Upon adopting the new Oregon defensible space code, the OSFM will reevaluate every three years and follow the same systematic policies and practices in place for the Oregon Fire Code.

Based on the language in Senate Bill 762, the code will be completed by December 2022. The timeline for when the code will go into effect in late 2023.

Wildfire Risk Map

The map was withdrawn on August 4, 2022, and an updated version will be released on March 1, 2023. The map was developed by Oregon State University and the Oregon Department of Forestry.

If your home or business is in the wildland-urban interface (WUI) and at high or extreme risk, you may be subject to the defensible space code. Homes and businesses not in the WUI and at high or extreme risk are not subject to the code. 

The OSFM recommends home and business owners at high or extreme risk but not in the WUI follow defensible space best practices. Wildfire does not recognize map boundary lines.

Partner Agency Contacts

The OSFM can answer questions about the defensible space code, standards, and best practices at SB762@osp.oregon.gov

The Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF)

  • Maintains the wildfire risk map
  • Can answer questions about risk level, map layers or statistics, and the risk appeal process
  • Contact them at sb762.rulemaking@odf.oregon.gov

The Building Codes Division (BCD) within the Department of Consumer and Business Services

  • Develops new rules and codes for buildings
  • Can answer questions about home building codes and code development
  • Contact BCD at bcd.info@dcbs.oregon.gov.

The Division of Financial Regulation (DFR)

  • Oversees insurance best practices
  • Can answer questions about insurance best practices, support with insurance claims, and insurance research
  • Contact DFR at DFR.InsuranceHelp@oregon.gov

Oregon State University (OSU)

  • Created the wildfire risk map in partnership with the ODF
  • They manage the data and the map interface on the Wildfire Risk Explorer
  • Can answer questions about data and the wildfire risk explorer
  • Contact OSU at osuwildfirerisk@oregonstate.edu

Department of Land Conversation and Development (DLCD)

  • Created a report of recommendations for potential land use planning changes to minimize wildfire risk and create more wildfire-adapted communities
  • Can answer questions about land use laws and planning
  • To stay informed about DLCD's work, join their email list

Fire-Adapted Organizations and Programs

Many organizations and programs are working to create fire-adapted communities in Oregon: 

Firewise USA® is a national program by the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) that provides a collaborative framework to help neighbors get organized, find direction, and take action to protect their homes and communities and reduce wildfire risk locally. To learn more, visit their website and use their interactive map to find a Firewise community near you. 

The Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP), created by the Healthy Forests Restoration Act in 2003, helps communities collaborate with federal and state land agencies to achieve common goals and tackle often-controversial issues. Communities with CWPPs have priority for Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management hazardous fuels reduction projects. 

For those in Central Oregon, Project Wildfire is a Deschutes County community organization that facilitates, educates, disseminates, and maximizes community efforts towards effective fire planning and mitigation. Learn more about the seven Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPPs) in Deschutes County, FireFree educational program, and other resources

Fire Adapted Oregon is a program created by the OSFM grounded in statewide data, science, defensible space, and the community risk reduction framework. The initiative uses an integrated and strategic investment of resources to reduce fires and their impact on the public.

Grant Opportunities

The OSFM is working to develop grant programs to help with defensible space projects. To learn more, click here.

Helpful Documents

Wildfire Risk Map FAQ
Defensible Space Code FAQ
How does defensible space really work?
Defensible Space FAQ
Fire Resistant Plant Guide
Partner Agency Contacts
Town Hall Resources

Town Hall Meetings

Virtual Meetings
Click the links below to join these public meetings. 

9 - 10:30 a.m. - Tuesday, October 4 - Click here to join the meeting
5:30 - 7 p.m., Wednesday, October 5 - Click here to join the meeting
11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m., Thursday, October 6 - Click here to join the meeting

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Meetings were held in Ashland, Medford, Grants Pass, Roseburg, Eugene, Sunriver, Bend, Sisters, Prineville, Madras, Detroit, Albany, Wilsonville, Hood River, The Dalles, John Day, and Burns.

Public Comment

To provide public comment, complete this form.

Defensible Space Code Public Meetings

To read minutes or watch recordings from meetings, click the link above.

Contact

Chad Hawkins
Assistant Chief Deputy
Fire & Life Safety Services
503-934-8252
chad.hawkins@osp.oregon.gov