Prepare Your (Marin County) Home for the High Wild Fire Season – An Annual Exercise!

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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.

The House

  • 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?

Access

  • 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?

Water Supply

  • 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?

Ten Quick and Easy Steps to Prepare for a Wildfire

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).

_____________________________________________________

Sylvia Barry, Realtor, ePRO
Marin Realtor for Marin Luxury Real Estate 
Marin, San Francisco North Bay
Frank Howard Allen Realtors 
website: www.SylviaSellsMarin.com
Blog: www.AllAboutMarinHomes.com

MARIN, SONOMA, S.F. BAY AREA REAL ESTATE – Beveldere, Corte Madera, Greenbrae, Kentfield, Larkspur, Marinwood, Mill Valley, Novato, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Sausalito, Tiburon; Cotati, Penngrove, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa.   Starter Home to Luxury Property.  REO (Bank Owned), Short Sale, View Homes, Architectural Distinctive Homes. Investment, 1031 Exchange.

Guideline for Mowing Grass on Marin County Open Space District

APTOPIX WILDFIRESHeading into the High Fire Season in Marin County, this seems to be a good time to reintroduce the guideline on how to mow the grass in Marin County, especially the properties that are next to Open Space. 

The guideline was established by the the Marin County Department of Parks and Open Space.

This letter is especially critical at this time of year when fire risk is increasing; especially since Marin county is agian, facing a very dry summer season.

The information below can be found on Marin County website Wildfire Safety Information as well.

Excerpt from Marin County Open Space District:

GUIDELINES FOR MOWING GRASS ON MARIN COUNTY OPEN SPACE DISTRICT LAND ADJACENT TO YOUR HOME

It is extremely important that your clearance work does not start a fire and that you follow the guidelines below:

Confirm that the property you want to mow is owned by the Marin County Open Space District, not your neighbor or another agency. Information on lot lines and property ownership is available at the County Assessor-Recorder’s Office (499-7215, or go to http://www.co.marin.ca.us/depts/AR/main/index.cfm) and the County Community Development Agency (499-6269, or go to http://www.co.marin.ca.us/depts/CD/main/index.cfm).

  • Mow only grass. If you wish to cut brush or trees on Open Space District lands, you will need a permit; please call the District field office at 415-507-2816.
  • Never mow under high fire hazard RED FLAG conditions; call 415-499-7191 for current conditions.
  • In the heat of summer, mow early in the morning or during the evening when it is cooler and less likely that you could start a fire. Use extra caution with power mowers or other spark-producing tools.
  • Keep a 5-pound “ABC” fire extinguisher AND a fully charged garden hose at the work site while mowing or other work is taking place.
  • Do not use metal mowing heads on power scythes (weed whips) as they can spark from contact with rocks.
  • Make sure spark arrestors are in place and functioning.
  • Do not lay power tools in dry grass where hot metals may ignite flammable vegetation.
  • Re-fuel tools away from vegetation — on paved surfaces or cleared areas. Store gasoline away from site.
  • If possible, have someone spot you (keep a close watch) while you are working to watch for problems.
  • Watch for hikers and other open space visitors; cease work until they are clear from the work area.

Information on the Open Space District is available on the internet at: http://www.marinopenspace.org.

For guidelines on fire protection, call your local fire agency or check the internet:

_________________________________________________________

Sylvia Barry, Realtor, ePRO
Marin Realtor for Marin Real Estate
Marin, San Francisco North Bay
Frankk Howard Allen Realtors
website: www.SylviaSellsMarin.com
Blog: www.AllAboutMarinHomes.com

 MARIN, SONOMA, S.F. BAY AREA REAL ESTATE – Beveldere, Corte Madera, Greenbrae, Kentfield, Larkspur, Marinwood, Mill Valley, Novato, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Sausalito, Tiburon; Cotati, Penngrove, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa. Starter Home to Luxury Property. REO (Bank Owned), Short Sale, View Homes, Architecural Distictive Homes. Investment, 1031 Exchange. Chinese Realtor.

Is Your Marin County Home Wildfire Ready?

 

During the high Fire season, it is nice to see the article from S.F. Chronicle highlighing what builders in he 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.

The House

  • 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?

Access

  • 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?

Water Supply

  • 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?

Ten Quick and Easy Steps to Prepare for a Wildfire

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).


Wildfire Alert – Guidelines from Marin County Open Space

Today, I received the ANNUAL FIRE LETTER from the Marin County Department of Parks and Open Space.

This letter is especially critical at this time of year when fire risk is increasing; particularly with the fact that we are already facing a very dry summer season.

Here is the information on the letter, which can be found on the county website Wildfire Safety Information as well.

Excerpt from Marin County Open Space District:

GUIDELINES FOR MOWING GRASS ON MARIN COUNTY OPEN SPACE DISTRICT LAND ADJACENT TO YOUR HOME

It is extremely important that your clearance work does not start a fire and that you follow the guidelines below:

  • Confirm that the property you want to mow is owned by the Marin County Open Space District, not your neighbor or another agency. Information on lot lines and property ownership is available at the County Assessor-Recorder’s Office (499-7215, or go to http://www.co.marin.ca.us/depts/AR/main/index.cfm) and the County Community Development Agency (499-6269, or go to http://www.co.marin.ca.us/depts/CD/main/index.cfm).
  • Mow only grass. If you wish to cut brush or trees on Open Space District lands, you will need a permit; please call the District field office at 415-507-2816.
  • Never mow under high fire hazard RED FLAG conditions; call 415-499-7191 for current conditions.
  • In the heat of summer, mow early in the morning or during the evening when it is cooler and less likely that you could start a fire. Use extra caution with power mowers or other spark-producing tools.
  • Keep a 5-pound “ABC” fire extinguisher AND a fully charged garden hose at the work site while mowing or other work is taking place.
  • Do not use metal mowing heads on power scythes (weed whips) as they can spark from contact with rocks.
  • Make sure spark arrestors are in place and functioning.
  • Do not lay power tools in dry grass where hot metals may ignite flammable vegetation.
  • Re-fuel tools away from vegetation — on paved surfaces or cleared areas. Store gasoline away from site.
  • If possible, have someone spot you (keep a close watch) while you are working to watch for problems.
  • Watch for hikers and other open space visitors; cease work until they are clear from the work area.

Information on the Open Space District is available on the internet at: http://www.marinopenspace.org.

For guidelines on fire protection, call your local fire agency or check the internet:

Fire Safe Marin
http://www.firesafemarin.org/

Marin County Fire Prevention Officers
http://www.marinfirechiefs.org/prevention

FireWise
http://www.firewise.org

Marin County Fire Services
http://www.co.marin.ca.us/depts/FR/main/fire/services.cfm#vmp

City of Novato Fire Services
http://www.novatofire.org/default.aspx

FEMA – Wildfire brochure
http://www.fema/gov/pdf/hazards/wfie.pdf