AB-38 Defensible Space Inspections

Scheduling a Defensible Space Inspection 

All homes in the City of Auburn are in Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zones

To schedule a Defensible Space Inspection with the Fire Department, fill out the online for here or call (530) 823-4211 ext. 279

City of Auburn Defensible Space Inspection Request Form

What is AB-38?

Assembly Bill 38 (2019) established that, as of July 1, 2021, California Civil Code Section 1102.19 requires a seller of real property located in a High or Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone (FHSZ) to provide the buyer with documentation the property is in compliance with defensible space requirements.

The law allows, that if documentation demonstrating compliance cannot be obtained by the close of escrow, the seller and buyer can enter into a written agreement showing that the buyer agrees to obtain documentation of compliance within one year of the close of escrow.

Why was Assembly Bill 38 (AB38) created?

In 2017, over 1.3 million acres burned in high-severity wildfires and over 10,000 structures were destroyed. In 2018, over 1.8 million acres burned and over 22,700 structures were destroyed. Studies have been done in the City of Auburn and have concluded that “the greatest risk from wildfire loss in the City of Auburn is currently lack of structural hardening and defensible space on private property”.

Overwhelming data suggests the two most important factors in protecting homes from wildfire are selection of building materials, and the maintenance of vegetation and other flammable materials in order to establish adequate defensible space. While existing building codes and standards ensure that newly constructed buildings utilize appropriate fire-resistant materials, there are millions of homes in California that were built before these standards were established. AB38 creates a two-pronged approach to educate and provide resources to help homeowners in fire hazard zones protect their homes from wildfires.

How do I prepare for my inspection?

Make sure your home has defensible space. Get your tree trimming done BEFORE the inspection date. Clean your gutters and roof of debris, limb up trees at least 6 feet, equip your house with 1/8 in. mesh screening over vents, and remove combustible material from below and around decks. These are just a few examples of ways to prepare. Click here for more details.

We recommend preparing in advance for the inspection as failure to comply could lead to a delay in your close of escrow.

What You Need to Do: 

1. Disclose that the home is in a Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone

The requirement was added for a seller of real property in a high or very high fire severity zones, on or after January 1, 2021, to provide a standardized disclosure notice to a buyer that includes information on how to fire harden a home and which features of the home may be vulnerable to wildfire and flying embers.

2. Disclose any features on the home that are vulnerable to wildfire and flying embers

The seller shall disclose which of the listed features may make the home vulnerable to wildfire and flying embers, if any, that exist on the home of which the seller is aware:

  • Eave, soffit, and roof ventilation where the vents have openings in excess of one-eighth of an inch or are not flame and ember resistant.
  • Roof coverings made of untreated wood shingles or shakes.
  • Combustible landscaping or other materials within five feet of the home and under the footprint of any attached deck.
  • Single pane or non-tempered glass windows.
  • Loose or missing bird stopping or roof flashing.
  • Rain gutters without metal or noncombustible gutter covers.

 3. Schedule a defensible space inspection with the City of Auburn Fire Department

Inspection fees are $150 and must be paid before the inspection is completed

Once the fee is paid, fill out an online form here or call the City of Auburn Fire Department at (530) 823-4211 ext. 279

Defensible Space Inspection Request Form

Documentation of compliance will be provided only if the home meets local vegetation management standards. If corrections need to be made, a list of corrections will be provided. Once corrected, please contact the Fire Department to schedule a reinspection. The fee for this reinspection is $75.

Click here for Local Vegetation Management Standards 

4. Provide a list of low-cost retrofits to protect a home from wildfire

Requirement added for a seller of real property in a high or very high fire severity zone, on or after July 1, 2025, to provide a list of low-cost retrofits being developed by the State Fire Marshal and to what extent those retrofits have been completed by the seller.

Click here for the Low Cost Retrofit List from CALFIRE