Fire Hazard: Clearing Undergrowth

Fire protection: the details on the legal obligations of property owners in France to clear dry brush on and around their property by 1 July...

The legal obligation of property owners to clear undergrowth on and around their house and land:

  • The "forest code" code forestier (article L 322.3) makes the clearing of undergrowth (débrousailler) in urban areas and allotments, even if the land is undeveloped, a legal duty.

This is:

  • to protect houses, property and possessions
  • to limit the speed and intensity of a possible fire
  • to make it easier for firemen to reach and control fire

Owners of property must clear the undergrowth to a minimum of 50 metres from their house in wooded and forest areas - and even 100 metres if requested by the Mairie. This clearing must be done at the property owner's expense. If you have a neighbour within the 50 metres radius who has not cleared undergrowth, you may appeal to the Mairie to take action. It is your house that is being protected.

  • The clearing should be done by the 1 June however, by law, you have until the 1 July.

The commune will carry out and pay for the clearing of undergrowth on non-habitable and public land but it is up to individual home and landowners to look after the land immediately around their property.

If the clearing is not carried out, property owners could be fined - the Mairie will be given police powers to implement this law. For those who refuse or neglect to clear the area around their property, the Mairie will undertake the work. The property owner will be prosecuted and liable for all costs (article L 322.9.2 du code forestier).

In the event of fire

  • Call 18 (the fire brigade)
  • Give your name, your exact address, telephone number and the locality of the fire
  • If possible, suggest the best route to reach that point as fast as possible
  • Try to specify the colour of the smoke, the type of vegetation which is burning and the type of area (residential, forested)
Further Information
  • Detailed information from debrousailler.com with further information available by département and commune.
  • Prevention Incendie provides more details: Click here (in French)
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