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Texas Department of Insurance
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Wildfire preparedness for businesses

More than 8 million Texans -- about 32% of the state’s population -- live in a wildland-urban interface (WUI), an area where development spreads into forestland and other natural areas. Businesses in a WUI are at greater risk of experiencing losses associated with wildfires, yet only about 20% have a wildfire protection plan. These steps will help ensure your business is protected and ready for the next wildfire.

Firefighter fighting a wildfire

1 Create defensible space.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency suggests creating three zones around your business – jointly called defensible space – to help slow or stop wildfires.

  • Zone 1: 0-5 feet from the building.
    Keep all fire-prone landscaping, plants, and decking at least 5 feet away from your business. Consider rock gardens, concrete walkways, non-combustible decking, stone or concrete patios, or irrigated grass around your business. Remove vegetation on roofs and gutters and trim tree branches that hang over the roof and chimney. If you have a raised wooden deck, keep the area under it clear of leaves.
  • Zone 2: 5-30 feet from the building.
    Keep all other structures, like pergolas, utility sheds, and storage buildings at least 30 feet away from your business. Remove dead and dying branches from trees and shrubs. Prune limbs to a minimum height of 6 feet off the ground. For shorter trees, pruning should not exceed 1/3 of the tree height.
  • Zone 3: 30-100 feet from the building.
    Thinning and pruning helps slow the energy of a wildfire advancing toward your business. Remove dead plants and tree branches on a regular schedule and keep at least 10 feet of horizontal space between the crown of each tree.

2 Create a 5-year vegetation management plan (VMP).

A VMP is designed to reduce ignition sources around your business. It includes tree and shrub pruning, brush removal and weed control, and removing dangerous trees near structures and powerlines. For help  creating a VMP, visit the Texas A&M Forest Service.

3 Check water supplies.

Ensure fire hydrants are located no more than 250 feet from your business and are connected to a reliable public or private water source. Contact your local fire department for help with testing and maintaining the fire hydrant. In an area without fire hydrants, consider installing a cistern or water storage tank. If you install an above-ground plastic tank, paint it black to prevent algae growth.

4 Use fire-resistant building materials.

When doing new construction or renovation, select noncombustible building materials for signage, exterior walls, roofing, gutters, and decking. Select exterior wall cladding made of brick or concrete and ensure the siding starts at least 6 inches above the ground. Choose roof covers with a Class A fire rating (metal roofs are resistant to flying embers) and choose gutters with metal flashings and aluminum downspouts. Select dual-paned windows with tempered glass that can be closed and install 1/8-inch mesh screening over all vents to protect against airborne embers entering your business.

5 Prepare a first-aid fire response.

Keep first-aid fire equipment available and ready for service. Include items such as ABC dry-chemical fire extinguishers2 ½  gallon pressure water extinguishers for spot brush fires, and if your facility has an outdoor water spigot, a 100-foot or more garden hose with a nozzle hooked up during dry periods. Train all employees in first-aid fire response each year.

6 Write wildfires into your emergency plan.

All workplaces should have a written emergency action plan. The plan should cover all possible internal and external workplace emergencies, including wildfires near the facility. Arrange evacuation routes and meeting points so all employees are accounted for after an evacuation.

7 Ensure computer data is backed up.

Your company’s data and inventory are vital for continuing operations. Cloud-based data backups are a must, and have at least one back-up drive located off-site. Learn more about technology disaster recovery plans at

8 Create a community wildfire protection plan.

To be effective, wildfire protection plans need all community members to work as a team. The goal is to create prevention and attack plans that include water sources; incident command posts; shelter and staging locations; processes for ordering resources; communications plans; and more. For help  creating a community wildfire protection plan, visit the Texas A&M Forest Service Wildland Urban Interface Program Planning Guide.

To monitor Texas wildfires in real-time, visit the Texas Wildfire Incident Response System’s Wildfire Public Viewer.

For more information on ways to protect your business and prepare for wildfires, visit the U.S. Fire Administration’s Wildfire Outreach Materials.


For more information, contact:

Last updated: 2/8/2024