Living in Marin and Sonoma Count, San Francisco North Bay, and for that matter, the San Francisco Bay Area as well as the entire state of California, we are constant on “High Fire Alert” during the dry summer seasons.
With the state budget cut, which deeply affected the state, county park as well as municipal fire department budgets, it is with even more urgency that homeowners heed to the advise and guidelines on how to prepare yours homes for the fire season during the next few months.
In 2008, San Francisco Chronicle published an article highlighing what builders in the Oakland Hills did while rebuilding homes after the 1991 Oakland Fire. The Oakland Fire “ultimately killed 25 people and injured 150 others. The 1,520 acres (6.2 km²) destroyed included 2,843 single-family dwellings and 437 apartment and condominium units. The economic loss has been estimated at $1.5 billion.”
Along with the article, S.F. Chronicle included a partial list of checklist developed by (of all the places) Travis County, Texas about what how to prepare for a fire:
I am following suit and quoting below:
Wildfire Preparedness Check List
The more “yes” answers you have, the more prepared you are in the event of a wildfire threat.
- Fire-resistant roof i.e. metal, tile, composition?
- Non-flammable siding materials?
- Home is located down-slope?
- Wooden deck facing or overhanging level ground?
- Large glass windows, facing level ground?
- Deck, porch, vents or house screened to keep sparks out?
- Chimney extending above the roofline?
- Chimney spark arrester in place?
- Roof and gutters clean of debris?
Around the House
- A fire defensible space (D-space) zone of 30 – 100 ft?
- Adequate clearance of weeds, tall grasses and brush?
- Leaves raked?
- Trees pruned 10 ft up from base of trunk?
- Debris cleared from beneath trees and near structures?
- Tree limbs pruned at least 10 ft from roof or within 15 ft laterally from chimney?
- House location or address clearly marked (3 inch letters)?
- Small amounts of mulch used near wooden structures?
- Firewood and other burnable items stored at least 30 ft from the house?
- Easy access to home by emergency vehicles?
- Road grade less than 15% (not steep)?
- Road wide and accommodating to two-way traffic?
- Road straight with wide turns?
- Large areas for vehicles to turn around?
- Short driveway from main road?
- Home area level and easily plowed or raked for fire line?
- Multiple roads into and out of developed area for safe and easy access and evacuation?
- Pressurized hydrants available?
- Non-pressurized or dry hydrants available?
- Water sources such as ponds or streams accessible?
- Power lines buried and not susceptible to fire?
- Well pumps maintained with uninterrupted electricity?
1. Cut grass and weeds, rake leaves and pine needles and remove yard debris and branches.
2. Relocate woodpile and left over building materials at least 30′ from house.
NOTE: It is best to not locate the woodpile directly uphill or downhill of any structure.
3. Signs, address and access are well marked, and visible both night and day. Reflective numbering/lettering that is 3″ or larger is recommended.
4. Prune dead and low-hanging tree limbs 6 to 10 feet from the ground around house. Remove all dead vegetation in brush and shrubbery.
5. Store all gas, oil and other chemicals away from the house. This includes propane tanks on BBQ pits.
6. Keep roof and gutters free from leaves and needles.
7. Enclose spaces under porches, decks, foundations and overhangs, and roof/attic vent openings with 1/8″ metal screening.
8. Have garden hoses connected on all sides of your house.
9. Place tools (such as ladders, shovels, rakes and hoes) for easy access to fire fighters.
10. Check driveway for adequate clearance for emergency vehicles. (Both height and width).
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