University of California
Fire in California

Manual

Manual fuels treatment involve hand felling and piling of fuels. The volume of material generated from a manual fuel treatment is typically too small to warrant a biomass sale therefore collected material is disposed of by burning or chipping. The work can be performed by either a single individual or a large organized crew with powered equipment.

Manually treating fuel allows more control over the final aesthetic output but can be labor intensive, especially as fuel density increases. For smaller projects, review Defensible Space Guidelines for specifics on spacing requirements and landscaping tips For larger projects, a professional should be consulted to organize a crew of personnel.

Due to the labor involved, manual fuel treatments are best suited to smaller projects (<10 acres) unless other options are unavailable (sensitive habitat, proximity to water, high risk to property damage). While possible to apply as a standalone treatment, the most effective use of manual fuels treatment are when paired with a follow-up treatment (prescribed fire, herbicide, grazing) to maintain the completed work.

Guidance for Household Projects

  • Proper Personal Protective Equipment should always be worn when working with chainsaws, shovels, and axes.
  • Drink plenty of water, even on overcast days. Heat stroke can strike suddenly and incapacitate you.
  • Build household burn piles of 4' or smaller to remove excess fuel. Piles should be spaced away from trees and low hanging fuels, as these increase the potential for ignition.
  • Check with your local Resource Conservation District and Fire Safe Council to see if there is a community chipping or workshare program to help.
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