What is Fuels Reduction?

Fire is an essential ecological process in fire-dependent ecosystems, such as California wildlands. However, over a century of fire suppression has led to wildlands, woodlands and rangelands that are unable to withstand normal droughts, insect outbreaks, or wildfires.


The purpose of any fuels reduction project is to change the size and composition of the fuels in the forest, creating a break in fuel continuity. Doing so removes ladder fuels which can carry fire from the forest floor to the tree crowns where it can become a devastating fire that quickly spreads. The goal of fuels reduction is to create conditions that mimic the role of low intensity fire or other disturbances that once naturally thinned the forest. Fuels reduction is a fire prevention activity that alters vegetation and changes the composition of fuels in the forest to remove ladder fuels that can take fire from the ground to the crowns of trees.


Fuels reduction work is done by dedicated CAL FIRE Fuels Reduction Crews, California National Guard, California Conservation Corps, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and CAL FIRE fire suppression resources including firefighter hand crews and engine crews when they are not responding to other emergencies.


Preventing wildfires in the State Responsibility Area (SRA) is a vital part of CAL FIRE’s mission. Fire prevention activities include fuels reduction, prescribed fire, defensible space inspections, fire prevention education, home hardening and much more. Wildland fire prevention projects reduce or eliminate fire hazards and risks by reducing fuel loads and creating a break in fuel continuity.  Check out this Fuels Reduction Guide to learn more about how CAL FIRE conducts these projects and the equipment we use to do them.