Fire Safe San Mateo News

Wildfire Safety Blog and News from Fire Safe San Mateo.
Oct
02

Your Home, Your Community: Making Neighborhoods Safer Through Firewise USA Program

NFPA_picture1

Created to address fire risk on private property, Firewise USA is a national program that empowers homeowners to engage in fire prevention at a community level. This recognition program through National Fire Protection Association provides homeowners with an organized framework to plan, organize and implement fire prevention around their homes and communities. Homeowners can learn about wildfire, gain access to resources, and collaborate with neighbors to provide their community with a framework for action. There are even some opportunities for fire insurance discounts. In participating, communities join over 1,500 other Firewise USA sites in 42 states who volunteer yearly to decrease their risk of fire.

 Firewise USA representative, David Shew, presented to the September 11th, 2019 Fire Safe San Mateo County meeting on general information about the program for San Mateo County residents. If you missed the September meeting, you can still view the powerpoint presentation below.

To have your community recognized as a Firewise USA site or to learn more, visit NFPA.org

.

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340 Hits
Jul
23

Fire Weather - Fire Science Presentation by Dr. Craig Clements SJSU

Dr. Craig Clements from the Fire Weather Research Laboratory at San Jose State University gave a presentation on fire weather and fire science at the July 10th meeting. The Fire Weather Research Laboratory is the only academic fire weather program in the United States. Dr. Clements conducts research on extreme fire behavior and fire weather and his program collects observational data on wildfires and experimental fires. The program develops ways to understand weather created by fires and how other weather patterns can be used to predict where and when fires will occur. He also discussed other data gathering and monitoring his program carries out, including live fuel moisture monitoring and fire weather research field sites.

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624 Hits
Jun
12

Learning from Sonoma County: How Vegetation Maps can Prevent Fires in San Mateo County

image_firedamagema_20190613-192240_1 Fire Damage Map of Woody Vegetation

We were delighted to have our guests from Sonoma County come down for our Fire Safe San Mateo County workshop Wednesday, June 12th, 2019. In anticipation for a collaborative, multi-agency County-wide vegetation mapping project "San Mateo County Vegetation Map and Landscape Database Project", guests spoke upon the current progress of the mapping project within San Mateo County and applicative uses for the maps, focusing on fuel load and fire modeling from Sonoma County's mapping project. We've summarized our guest's presentations below. 

The ultimate goals of the San Mateo vegetation mapping project are large and ongoing. So far, the project has been able to produce high resolution imagery and LiDar data, a method of remote sensing that creates a 3-D representation of the landscape. From these original data sets, and with the help from an army of botanists, the project aims to produce fine scale vegetation type maps, fire fuels mapping, relative forest stand cover, impervious surfaces layer mapping, hydrologic system mapping and topographic modeling and contours. With enough funding, more maps can created from the original data. Altogether, the applicative uses of the data produced will be limited to the imagination. Ultimate completion of the project is slated for January 2022. The final maps (available in GIS format) will be available at San Mateo County's GIS webportal

In Sonoma County, a similar mapping project was completed in 2017. The final product is provided not only as downloadable packages, but also through a user friendly mapping webportaland "Story Map". These easy to use maps bring the wealth of information this project brings to the greater public, including local government, State government, academia, communities, Resource Conservation Districts, non-profits and commercial entities. This data has been used for a myriad of reasons, spanning wetland conservation, agricultural protection, old-growth redwood research, carbon sequestration research, floodplain and creek restoration and planning along with so much more. Check out their website at sonomavegmap.org

Following the 2017 Sonoma Complex fires which started October 8th, 2017, Sonoma suffered devastating impacts from the combined destruction from the Pocket, Tubbs and Nuns Fire. In the aftermath, there were many questions as to why the fires spread the way they did and with such destructive force. Fires are not new to Sonoma County, there have been multiple historical fires, predominantly in 1924 and 1963, that match similar footprints to both the Nuns and Tubbs Fire. However, there's no question that these fires are beyond the extent of any historical fire. To answer the question, "why?", a collaborative effort was created through Ag and Open Space Sonoma County with Kass Green & Associates with Tuckman Geospatial. Their hypothesis was the changes in the landscape, such as slope, vegetation, wind and ladder fuels, were responsible for heightened intensity and spread of the fires. With funding assistance through NASA, the research team investigated the relationship between damage to the landscape (woody canopy) and variations across the landscape. Using machine learning, the research team looked at 72 landscape variables, including ladder fuels, canopy height, wind direction and speed, and distance to streams. 

Out of the six scenarios (each of the three fires being divided by wind driven events and topography driven events) their machine learning algorithm found high density of ladder fuels, low canopy height (shrubs), low climatic water deficit (precipitation and overall moisture), and far distance from streams all correlated to high damage to the landscape. A large takeaway from these results is the importance of ladder fuels in intensifying wildfires. Ladder fuels are the accumulation of woody vegetation (fuel) underneath a forest or shrub canopy. From these ladder fuels, fire can "climb" from lower growing woody vegetation up into the canopy, causing a high-temperature crown fire. The fire prevention community has known ladder fuels increase the risk and intensity of wildfires for a long time. This study not only verifies this case, but also provides something greater—a means of mapping the ladder fuels through Sonoma County. With this map, Sonoma County is able to find and manage for ladder fuels, focusing on escape routes, homes and buildings. 

For San Mateo County, we still have a few years to wait before we can create similar resources. Starting in Summer 2019, the data will be coming out piecemeal, like LiDar, 1-ft contours, and ladder fuels, but the final package is slated for 2022. Once fully produced, these maps will provide critical information to fire prevention agencies, such as Fire Safe San Mateo County, in planning escape routes, creating targeted fuel reduction projects around fire prone communities and so much more. 

Special thank you to Danny Franco (Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy), Deborah Hirst (Board of Supervisors for District 3), Supervisor Don Horsley, Denise Enea (Woodside Fire Protection District and Fire Safe San Mateo County Board President) and the good folks at Woodside Town hall for all your work in creating this workshop.

For more information on the San Mateo vegetation mapping project, please contact Daniel Franco at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Power point presentation from the day's presentations are available here:

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902 Hits
Apr
25

FIRE SAFE San Mateo County Post-Fire Data & Assessment Workshop

Rx Burn Henry Cowell SP cropped

Wednesday, June 12, 2019 from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM (PDT)

Woodside Town Hall | 2955 Woodside Road | Woodside, CA 94062

The San Mateo Fire Safe Council invites you to join us June 12th, 2019 from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm for a series of presentations by staff and consultants with Sonoma County Agriculture & Open Space, who will be sharing data and analysis performed on the Sonoma County Complex Fires of 2017. Key discussion topics include:

  • The Sonoma County Vegetation Mapping and LiDAR Program, which is similar to current ongoing countywide fine scale vegetation mapping efforts in San Mateo and Marin Counties.
  • NASA Funded research designed to update existing Sonoma vegetation data sets ad analyze the impact of the fires across the landscape, and discover and quantify relationships between fire damage and landscape charactaristics such as vegetation weather, land use, and land management patterns.
  • Overview and results from a survey to understand the use of Sonoma's Vegetation Mapping and Land Cover Map Products in fire response, post-fire recovery and resilience planning.

Join us for a networking lunch from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm (immediately following the workshop) provided by District 3 Supervisor Don Horsley.

SPACE WILL BE LIMITED!

For questions please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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1056 Hits
Apr
10

Bay Area Prescribed Fire Council's Spring Tour

Crazy about Prescribed Fire?

The Bay Area Prescribed Fire Council is hosting their first Spring Meeting and Tour Thursday May 2nd and Friday May 3rd in Morgan Hill/ Henry Coe State Park.

This will be a conveinging of prescribed fire practitioners throughout the Bay Area. Come learn from their experiences and share your own.

 

 Sign up at: 
Bay Area Prescribed Fire EventBrite Page

 

 Thursday speakers include:

-Cultural burning on Amah Mutsun land
-Air Quality with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District
-Ecological reasons to burn with Audubon Canyon Ranch and Sonoma Ecology Center
-Legislative update
-Deciding where the BARxFC is headed (Policy/ Research, training and communications)

Friday will be a tour of nearby Henry Coe State Park, their prescribed burning, and wildfire history with park employees and Cal Fire.

 

Bay Area Prescribed Fire EventBrite Page

Questions or comments to:
Jared Childress  |  Prescribed Fire Specialist  |  Fire Forward

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. |  Office: 707.938.4554, ext. 309  |   Mobile: 510.499.1496
Bouverie Preserve,  P. O. Box 1195, Glen Ellen, CA 95442

2019 Spring meeting flier

 

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  975 Hits
975 Hits
Mar
29

Updates from Preparing for Wildfire Convening, March 13, 2019

Hosted by Climate Ready San Mateo County, the Preparing for Wildfire Convening on March 13, 2019 brought together over 100 community members to talk about the future of fire in San Mateo County. The event brought insighful speakers to relay lessons larned from Sonoma County, recent data on fire and current efforts in San Mateo County. Speakers were followed by a collaborative moment around community preparedness and fire risk for attendees. A big thanks to FIRE SAFE San Mateo County members who joined this event.

 

Check out Climate Ready SMC's website for more information and highlights from the event. 

ClimateReadySMC Raider C 8

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  1260 Hits
1260 Hits
Feb
28

Upcoming Events

Check out a few upcoming events of interest to FIRE SAFE San Mateo County members! These events are not affiliated with FIRE SAFE San Mateo County, but are wonderful opportunity for members to learn and network throughout the region. 

Fire Weather Research Workshop
San Jose State University
April 26, 2019

This is the first annual fire weather research workshop aimed at providing new information to fire agencies, students, students , and other stake holders to the current state-of-knowledge of fire weather research in California. Read about more information on their website or sign up for the event on google forms.

CPUC Wildfire Technology Innovation Summit
Wednesday, March 20, 2019

The Summit is designed to initiate an ongoing dialogue between the technology industry, academic researchers, utilities and government on the needs and tools to address wildfire challenges. Attendees will have the opportunity to hear from leading experts, practitioners and entrepreneurs and to discuss innovative technologies, strategies and practical tools.
For more details see http://firetechsummit.cpuc.ca.gov

Wildland Urban Conference
March 26-28, 2019

The IAFC's Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) conference offers hands-on training and interactive sessions designed to address the challenges of wildland fire. If you're one of the many people responsible for protecting local forests or educating landowners and your community about the importance of land management—then this is the conference for you.
Learn more at https://www.iafc.org/events/wui
 

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1113 Hits
Sep
06

CAL FIRE San Mateo-Santa Cruz Unit Aug. 31 Live Fuel Moisture

 CZU August 31th LFM is posted at National Fuel Moisture Database and summarized below.  Results were all within average for this time of year. 

Location

Current(%)  

8/31/17

Previous (%)

8/10/17

Change

Hwy 35 & 92 - coyote brush

144

N/A

N/A

Pulgas - coyote brush

136

139

-3

Saratoga Summit - chamise

74

80

-6

new growth

79

87

-8

old growth

69

74

-5

Corralitos - manzanita

87

92

-5

new growth

87

93

-6

old growth

87

91

-4

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2656 Hits
Aug
14

CAL FIRE San Mateo-Santa Cruz Unit Aug. Live Fuel Moisture

CZU August 10th LFM is posted at National Fuel Moisture Database and summarized below.  The Highway 35 & 92 location could not be sample due to an extensive marine layer, which resulted in active precipitation.  Results were all within average for this time of year. 

Location

Current(%)  

8/10/17

Previous (%)

7/26/17

Change

Hwy 35 & 92 - coyote brush

N/A

150

N/A

Pulgas - coyote brush

139

146

-7

Saratoga Summit - chamise

80

82

-2

new growth

87

89

-2

old growth

74

75

-1

Corralitos - manzanita

92

92

0

new growth

93

93

0

old growth

91

91

0

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2706 Hits
Jul
28

CAL FIRE San Mateo-Santa Cruz Unit July Live Fuel Moisture

CZU July 26th LFM is posted at National Fuel Moisture Database and summarized below.  The Pulgas location was at average levels but all other locations were below average for this time of year. 

Location

Current(%)  

7/26/17

Previous (%)

7/5/17

Change

Hwy 35 & 92 - coyote brush

150

157

-7

Pulgas - coyote brush

146

151

-5

Saratoga Summit - chamise

82

90

-8

new growth

89

94

-5

old growth

75

85

-10

Corralitos - manzanita

92

108

-16

new growth

93

112

-19

old growth

91

104

-13

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2678 Hits
Jul
26

Fire Safe Annual BBQ, Wed., 8/14, Please RSVP

FSSMC Annual Barbecue 8/14/2018

Join us for a BBQ on Wednesday, August 14th from 10:30 am to 1:30 pm at Jasper Ridge Preserve in Portola Valley.

You know it’s the middle of summer when you see your annual invite to the FIRE SAFE SMC BBQ at Jasper Ridge.  This is a great opportunity to get better acquainted with some of SMC’s movers and shakers in the fire management arena.  We have all worked hard this year with various large and small hazardous fuel management projects so come brag about your successes.   We will have our latest piece of Fire Safe equipment on site to show you.  The BBQ is the real deal and I promise you won’t leave hungry.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 Click on the link below to print off your official invitation.  Feel free to share it with those from your cities and departments who might have an interest in what we do.

11:00-12:00 Track Chipper demo - See a demonstration of a tracked chipper!
12:00-1:30 BBQ Lunch

 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Jasper Ridge

4001 Sand Hill Rd, Woodside, CA 94062

Map

 Flyer: Fire Safe BBQ.pdf

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1302 Hits
Jul
25

CAL FIRE San Mateo-Santa Cruz Unit June Live Fuel Moisture

CZU June LFM is posted at the National Fuel Moisture Database and summarized below.  A decline in fuel moisture was observed at all sampling locations, but levels are near average for this time of year.  The increase in old growth moisture at Corralitos was likely a sampling error.  This will be confirmed when the next sample is taken.

Location

Current(%)  

6/20/17

Previous (%)

5/19/17

Change

Hwy 35 & 92 - coyote brush

171

188

-17

Pulgas - coyote brush

168

170

-2

Saratoga Summit - chamise

106

118

-12

new growth

120

143

-23

old growth

92

93

-1

Corralitos - manzanita

126

121

+5

new growth

133

149

-16

old growth

120

93

+27

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  2476 Hits
2476 Hits
Jun
15

Minutes of 6/14 FSSMC Meeting Now Available

On our "Home" page, click the "About Us" tab, and then "Meetings". You will see two options, "Agendas" and "Minutes". Click "Minutes" to find the one for this meeting in the 2017 folder.

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2177 Hits
Jun
07

60 Minutes: Why fighting wildfires often fails -- and what to do about it

More than 100M Americans live in or near forests and grasslands that can erupt in flames. Steve Inskeep reports on fighting wildfires, which cost federal agencies almost $2B last year

Fighting wildfires in America cost federal agencies almost $2 billion last year including more than half the budget of the U.S. Forest Service. Wildland fires are growing worse in a time of drought and climate change, and the biggest and most destructive fires can't be stopped. They are a force of nature: imagine trying to stop a hurricane. Yet the government has to try, because more than a 100 million Americans now live in -- or near -- forests and grasslands that can erupt in flames.

Watch the 60 Minutes Special

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2726 Hits
Jan
31

Schedule of Upcoming 2017 FSSMC Meetings

Upcoming meeting dates are 2/8, 4/12, 6/14, 10/11 and 12/13. Meetings are on Wednesdays and start at 9:15 am at 4091 Jefferson Ave. in Redwood City. Our annual barbeque will be on 8/9, location to be determined.

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2615 Hits
Jul
19

The Efficacy of Hazardous Fuel Treatments

The Efficacy of Hazardous Fuel Treatments

Click on the link below for a copy of A Special Report from the Ecological Restoration Institute at Northern Arizona University to the U.S. Department of Interior, Office of Wildland Fire.

The reports covers the efficacy of hazardous fuel treatments and is a rapid assessment of the economic and ecologic consequences of alternative hazardous fuel treatments.

Download the Report:

2013-report-Efficacy-of-Hazardous-Fuel-Treatments.pdf

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  2642 Hits
2642 Hits
May
19

2016 Living With Fire In San Mateo County Brochure Available

Long awaited and now here! 

The 2016 version provides a comprenhensive rundown on how to protect your home from the risk of wildfire along with a detailed list of resources.

You can accesss it from our "Home" page by clicking on the "Read More" tab as this item scrolls and stops on your screen or through the "Resources" then "Living with Fire" tabs where you can view, download and print it.

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  3154 Hits
3154 Hits
Apr
25

Fire Safe Receives Award Check from FM Global

At the April 13th Fire Safe San Mateo County meeting, FM Global, a Rhode Island-based insurance carrier, presented a check to Fire Safe in the amount of $2,015 for the installation of hazardous fuel road signage at four strategic locations in San Mateo County.  CAL FIRE will be responsible for the installation.

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  3124 Hits
3124 Hits
Mar
31

Fire Safe San Mateo County Awarded Hazardous Fuel Reduction Grant by CAL FIRE

On March 30, 2016, FSSMC received notice from The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) that its grant project entitled Los Tranco/Vista Verde Hazardous Fuel Reduction Program had been selected for funding in the amount of $75,150.  The project will last for two years beginning with community outreach and education in the second quarter of this year followed by hazardous fuel reduction activitivies over the remaining life of the program.

Congratulations and many thanks to those who were instrumental in helping to create a successful application!!

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  3324 Hits
3324 Hits
Feb
24

Winning A Wildfire Preparation Day Grant

Apologies for the very short notice, State Farm is offering $500 per selected grant.  The grant application needs to be in no later than February 28th, so an off-the-shelf proposal is best.

Join individuals and groups of all ages on May 7, and participate in national Wildfire Community Preparedness Day activities that will make your community safer from the impacts of future and past wildfires.

For details, check out the following link:

http://www.nfpa.org/safety-information/for-consumers/outdoors/wildland-fires/campaigns/national-wildfire-community-preparedness-day

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3291 Hits
Feb
24

Your House Could Survive A Wildfire Video from Dr. Jack Cohen

Overview:

Wildland fires are a serious threat to lives and property in the U.S. The combination of drought, warmer temperatures, high winds and an excess of dried vegetation in forests and grasslands has made fire seasons progressively worse over the past 50 years. And, in the last decade, wildfires have burned over 80 million acres of these lands. According to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), 2015 saw one of the worst fire seasons in decades, with over 10 million acres burned.

Facts and Figures:

  • According to the NIFC, 2015 saw more than 68,000 wildfires burn over 10 million acres.   
  • The U.S. Forest Service reports that 2015 was also the most expensive wildfire season on record, costing $1.71 billion for the year. This total surpasses the previous record of $1.67 billion set in 2002.    A total of 4,636 structures were destroyed by wildfires in 2015, including more than 2,600 homes and more than 100 commercial buildings   
  • The National Association of State Foresters (NASF) cites more than 72,000 U.S. communities are at risk from wildfires.

Be sure to check out this video from Dr. Jack Cohen, Fire Science Researcher, at the USDA Forest Service for details about how a house could survive a wildfire.

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3871 Hits
Nov
06

California Wildland Urban Interface Code Information

Fire Code Book CoverYears of experience by the California fire service have led to a new strategy for reducing the chance of building loss or damage due to wildfire, with new regulations that are now mandatory within the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI). It is a two-pronged approach – providing defensible space and constructing a more ignition-resistant structure.

​EXTERIOR WILDFIRE EXPOSURE PROTECTION:

 Buildings are now required to be constructed so that they have less chance of catching fire from burning embers from wildfires. Most of the highest wildfire losses take place during hot, windy days or nights when flames spread so fast that many buildings catch fire and overwhelm available firefighting forces. Many buildings ignite when burning embers land on wood roofs, blow in through vents, pile up in cracks, or become lodged under boards. By constructing buildings in a way that reduces the ability of embers to intrude, a major cause of structure ignition is reduced.

Recently adopted building codes reduce the risk of burning embers igniting buildings. Standards are already in effect for roofs, attic vents, siding, exterior doors, decking, windows, eaves, wall vents and enclosed overhanging decks.


Years of experience by the California fire service have led to a new strategy for reducing the chance of building loss or damage due to wildfire, with new regulations that are now mandatory within the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI). It is a two-pronged approach – providing defensible space and constructing a more ignition-resistant structure.

​EXTERIOR WILDFIRE EXPOSURE PROTECTION:

 Buildings are now required to be constructed so that they have less chance of catching fire from burning embers from wildfires. Most of the highest wildfire losses take place during hot, windy days or nights when flames spread so fast that many buildings catch fire and overwhelm available firefighting forces. Many buildings ignite when burning embers land on wood roofs, blow in through vents, pile up in cracks, or become lodged under boards. By constructing buildings in a way that reduces the ability of embers to intrude, a major cause of structure ignition is reduced.

Recently adopted building codes reduce the risk of burning embers igniting buildings. Standards are already in effect for roofs, attic vents, siding, exterior doors, decking, windows, eaves, wall vents and enclosed overhanging decks.


CHAPTER 7A BUILDING CODE LANGUAGE

FIRE SAFE REGULATIONS

Government Code Sections 51175-51189   

General Guidelines for Creating Defensible Space

Building Materials Listings and Manufacturning Process

***NEW WUI PRODUCTS HANDBOOK***

Homeowner's Summary of Fire Prevention Laws

http://www.woodsidefire.org/components/com_jce/editor/tiny_mce/plugins/anchor/img/anchor.gif);">What You Need To Know About California’s New Building Codes

Protecting a building from wildfire takes a two-pronged approach:

  • Remove flammable materials from around the building
  • Construct the building of fire resistant material

The law requires that homeowners do fuel modification to 100 feet (or the property line) around their buildings to create a defensible space for firefighters and to protect their homes from wildfires.

New building codes will protect buildings from being ignited by flying embers which can travel as much as a mile away from the wildfire.  The following ignition-resistant standards are designed to prevent embers from igniting a building:

BUILDING MATERIALS LISTINGS FOR WILDLAND URBAN INTERFACE BUILDING MATERIALS

The Office of the State Fire Marshal's (SFM) Building Materials Listing Program (BML) was originally created to mandate that all fire alarm systems and fire alarm devices be approved and listed by the State Fire Marshal prior to sale or marketing within the state. The program later was expanded to include many other materials such as: roof coverings, fire resistive wall and ceiling-floor assemblies, wall finish materials, fire and non-fire related hardware, insulating products, fire doors, fire dampers, electrical appliances and devices. Each product approval and listing is based upon an evaluation of test results that include an analysis of required product performance and reliability features. All manufacturers that want to list products in California must have those products tested and labeled by a SFM accredited laboratory. If a product does not qualify for listing but meets the standard of the “Materials and Construction Methods for Exterior Wildfire Exposure,” Chapter 7A of the California Building Code will be listed in the WUI Product Handbook.

WUI BUILDING MATERIALS TESTING STANDARDS

The new building standard for the Fire Hazard Severity Zones will be enforced by the Building Official as projects go through the plan checking process. To best assist them in determining if a product meets the code requirements, the State Fire Marshal's BML Program is accepting applications for materials that meet the new code. These materials will be listed on the SFM BML website and the Wildland Urban Interface Building Codes page of the Wildland Hazards and Building Codes website section. The SFM listing service provides building authorities, architectural and engineering communities, contractors, and the fire service with a reliable and readily available source of information.

Since the materials under Wildland Urban Interface Building Codes (except wood shakes and shingles) are not required by law to be listed by the SFM, the listing for these products are strictly voluntary. Materials not listed by the SFM may still qualify for use provided they met all the requirements under Chapter 7A. If not listed on the SFM site, all documentation and testing certificates showing compliance must be submitted to the building official having jurisdiction for final approval.

EFFECTIVE DATES OF CODE:

On September 20, 2007 the Building Standards Commission approved the Office of the State Fire Marshal’s emergency regulations amending the California Code of Regulations (CCR), Title 24, Part 2, known as the 2007 California Building Code (CBC).

“701A.3.2 New Buildings Located in Any Fire Hazard Severity Zone.

New buildings located in any Fire Hazard Severity Zone within State Responsibility Areas, any Local Agency Very-High Fire Hazard Severity Zone, or any Wildland-Urban Interface Fire Area designated by the enforcing agency for which an application for a building permit is submitted on or after January 1, 2008, shall comply with all sections of this chapter. New buildings located in any Fire Hazard Severity Zone shall comply with one of the following:

1. State Responsibility Areas.
New buildings located in any Fire Hazard Severity Zone within State Responsibility Areas, for which an application for a building permit is submitted on or after January 1, 2008, shall comply with all sections of this chapter.

2. Local Agency Very-High Fire Hazard Severity Zone.
New buildings located in any Local Agency Very-High Fire Hazard Severity Zone for which an application for a building permit is submitted on or after July 1, 2008, shall comply with all sections of this chapter.

3. Wildland-Urban Interface Fire Area designated by the enforcing agency.
New buildings located in any Wildland-Urban Interface Fire Area designated by the enforcing agency for which an application for a building permit is submitted on or after January 1, 2008, shall comply with all sections of this chapter.

HOW TO GET CODE QUESTIONS ANSWERED

Information Bulletins” and formal state building standards “Code Interpretations” pertaining to wildfire protection building codes are available from the Office of the State Fire Marshal.

Project specific questions should be addressed by the agency having jurisdiction of the project. They may have more restrictive requirements in local ordinances.

WUI INFORMATIONAL BULLETINS:

WUI REFERENCE MATERIALS:

New Building Standards have been adopted for areas within local jurisdiction Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zones and in the State Responsibility Areas (SRA). Phase I of the standards are already in effect. Phase II standards will go into effect January 1, 2008.

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4535 Hits
Nov
06

Hardening Your Home Against Wildfire

A wildfire-safe home must be an ember-ignition-resistant home, so that even if the flames do not reach your home, it will be able to withstand exposure to embers that may have been blown a mile or more in front of a wildfire.  To provide maximum wildfire protection for your home, a combination of near-home vegetation management, appropriate building materials, and related design features must be used. These points are summarized the excellent Univesity of California publication, "Home Survival in Wildfire-Prone Areas: Building Materials and Design Considerations."

Preparing and maintaining adequate defensible space will guard against flame contact and radiant exposures from nearby vegetation—but because of the likely ember exposure to your home during a wildfire, you cannot ignore building material and design considerations. Similarly, if you ignore your defensible space (i.e., you do not have it or do not maintain it), the wildfire will produce maximum ember, flame, and radiant exposures to your home.  It is very unlikely that even hardened buildings can survive such exposure, as a weak link will likely exist somewhere in the building enclosure. 

There is a direct link between home survival, the vegetation management required in developing adequate defensible space around the home, and the building materials and design used to construct the home. The area where your vegetation should be managed (i.e., your defensible space) will depend on the particular topography and siting of the home on the property. Information included in this publication is focused on the home and is intended to provide information to help you make “fire wise” decisions regarding material choices and design decisions, whether you are building a new home or retrofitting your existing house. A considerable amount of information has been published in recent years on defensible space and vegetation management. Check with your local cooperative extension office or fire department for information appropriate to your area.

Read more about hardening Your Home against wildfire...

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4008 Hits
Jul
15

Be Fire Safe, Even When Clearing Defensible Space!

Hundreds of fires are started each year by power tools.   If you live in a wildland area, use extreme caution during fire season.  Lawn mowers, string trimmers, chain saws, grinders, welders, and tractors can all start fires if not used properly.

Mowing:  Striking  rocks can create sparks  and start fireas in dry grass. Use caution, mow only early in the day (before 10AM, when the weather is calm, cool, and moist). 

Spark Arresters:  In wildland areas, spark arresters are required on all portable, gasoline-powered equipment. This includes  tractors, harvesters, chainsaws, weed-trimmers and mowers.

Keep the exhaust system, spark arresters  and mower in proper working order and free  of carbon buildup.  Use the recommended grade of fuel, and don’t top it off.

Visit www.firesafesanmateo.org for more information on creating defensible space!

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  3721 Hits
3721 Hits
May
28

Designing for Disaster: National Building Museum Highlights Firesafe Building Practices

From earthquakes and hurricanes to flooding and rising sea levels, natural disasters can strike anywhere and at any time. No region of the country is immune from the impacts and rising costs of disaster damage. In light of this stark reality, the National Building Museum presents a multimedia exhibition titled Designing for Disaster, a call-to-action for citizen preparedness—from design professionals and local decision-makers to homeowners and school kids. The exhibition explores strategies local leaders are currently pursuing to reduce their risks and build more disaster-resilient communities. The exhibition will open May 11, 2014 and remain on view through August 2, 2015.

Natural disasters can impact any of us, anywhere, at any time. In 2012, the financial toll in the United States alone exceeded $100 billion, and the loss of life and emotional toll is immeasurable. No region of the country is immune—112 events in 32 states were declared natural disasters in the U.S. during 2012.

The National Building Museum's exhibition, Designing for Disaster, examines how we assess risks from natural hazards and how we can create policies, plans, and designs yielding safer, more disaster-resilient communities.

DESIGNING FOR DISASTER

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  3859 Hits
3859 Hits
May
12

"One Less Spark" Weather Forecaster Toolkit

The One Less Spark, One Less Wildfire Weather Forecaster Toolkit with fire weather reporting ideas for all media is available and ready for use.

Components of the Toolkit include:

  • Ideas for newspaper (traditional and on-line) , radio, and television weather reporters to connect forecasts with fire danger
  • Examples of weather reports containing fire safety messages
  • Commonly used terminology to enhance understanding thereby accurately describing terms to the public while forecasting
  • Examples of messages that can be used during weather reporting to help the public understand fire weather terminology
  • Short, simple, and catchy phrases that can be easily inserted into forecasts
  • Links to websites to further enhance wildland fire weather information.

Sponsors include:  California Wildfire Coordinating Group Prevention Subcommittee. Member agencies of the CWCG include; US Forest Service, CAL FIRE, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Cal OES, Caltrans, CAL Fire Safe Councils, Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service . 

The Toolkit is attached and can also be downloaded from:    http:/www.preventwildfireca.org/OneLessSpark/. Please give us feedback about your thoughts and use of the Toolkit.

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  3962 Hits
3962 Hits
May
07

Wildfire Preparedness: FIRESCAPING

b2ap3_thumbnail_BG.jpg

Appropriate manipulation of the landscape can make a significant contribution towards wildfire survival.  Firescaping integrates traditional landscape functions and needs into a design that reduces the threat from wildfire.

In addition to meeting a homeowner’s aesthetic desires and functional needs, firescaping includes vegetation modification techniques, planting for fire safety, defensible space principles, and use of fire safety zones.

Three factors determine wildfire intensity:  topography, weather and fuels (vegetation).  Property owners can control the fuel component through proper selection, placement, and maintenance of vegetation.  Careful planning and firescape design can diminish the possibility of ignition, lower fire intensity, and reduce how quickly a fire spreads – all factors which will increase a home’s survivability during a wildfire.  

In firescaping, plant selection is primarily determined by a plant’s ability to reduce the wildfire threat.  Other considerations may be important such as appearance, ability to hold the soil in place, and wildlife habitat value.

Minimize use of evergreen shrubs and trees within 30 feet of a structure, because junipers, other conifers, and broadleaf evergreens contain oils, resins, and waxes that make these plants burn with great intensity.  

Choose “fire smart” plants - typically plants with a high moisture content, larger leaves, low growing, with stems and leaves that are not resinous, oily or waxy.  Deciduous trees are generally more fire resistant than evergreens because they have a higher moisture content when in leaf, and a lower fuel volume when dormant.  

Placement and maintenance of trees and shrubs is as important as actual plant selection.  When planning tree placement remember their size at maturity. Keep tree limbs at least 10 feet from chimneys, power lines and structures, and separate canopies so no trees touch.  Do not plant shrubs beneath trees.

Firescape design uses driveways, lawns, walkways, patios, parking areas, areas with inorganic mulches, and fences constructed of nonflammable materials such as rock, brick, or concrete to reduce fuel loads and create fuel breaks. Fuel breaks are a vital component in firescape design.  While bare ground can not burn, it is not promoted as a firescape element due to aesthetic and soil erosion concerns.

When designing a firesafe landscape, remember that less is better.  Simplify visual lines and groupings.  A firesafe landscape lets plants and garden elements reveal their innate beauty by leaving space between plants and groups of plants.   In firescaping, open spaces are as important as the plants.

Learn more about firescaping here...

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4784 Hits
Apr
22

Colorado Conference Explores the True Cost of Wildfires

Adapted from http://wildfiretoday.com/2014/04/18/the-true-cost-of-wildfire/

A recent conference in Glenwood Springs, Colorado explored The True Cost of Wildfire.

Usually the costs we hear associated with wildfires are what firefighters run up during the suppression phase.  The National Incident Management Situation Report provides those numbers daily for most ongoing large fires. But other costs may be many times the cost of suppression, including the value of structures burned, crops and pastures ruined, economic losses from decreased tourism, medical treatment for the effects of smoke, salaries of law enforcement and highway maintenance personnel, counseling for victims, costs incurred by evacuees, infrastructure damage and shutdowns, rehabilitation of watersheds, forests, flood and debris flow prevention, and repairing damage to reservoirs filled with silt.  And of course there can not be a value placed on the lives that are lost in wildfires.  In Colorado alone, fires since 2000 have killed 8 residents and 12 firefighters.

The total cost of a wildfire can be mitigated by fire-adaptive communities, hazard fuel mitigation, fire prevention campaigns, and prompt and aggressive initial attack of new fires with overwhelming force by ground and air resources. Investments in these areas can save large sums of money. And, it can save lives, something we don’t hear about very often when it comes to wildfire prevention and mitigation; or spending money on adequate fire suppression resources.Below are some excerpts from a report on the conference that appeared in the Grand Junction Sentinel:

[Fire ecologist Robert] Gray said the 2000 Cerro Grande Fire in New Mexico ended up having a total estimated cost of $906 million, of which suppression accounted for only 3 percent.Creede Mayor Eric Grossman said the [West Fork Complex] in the vicinity of that town last summer didn’t damage one structure other than a pumphouse. But the damage to its tourism-based economy was immense.“We’re a three-, four-month (seasonal tourism) economy and once that fire started everybody left, and rightfully so, but the problem was they didn’t come back,” he said.
A lot of the consequences can play out over years or even decades, Gray said.He cited a damaging wildfire in Slave Lake, in Alberta, Canada, where post-traumatic stress disorder in children didn’t surface until a year afterward. Yet thanks to the damage to homes from the fire there were fewer medical professionals still available in the town to treat them.“You’re dealing with a grieving process” in the case of landowners who have lost homes, said Carol Ekarius, who as executive director of the Coalition for the Upper South Platte has dealt with watershed and other issues in the wake of the 2002 Hayman Fire and other Front Range fires.
The Hayman Fire was well over 100,000 acres in size and Ekarius has estimated its total costs at more than $2,000 an acre. That’s partly due to denuded slopes that were vulnerable to flooding, led to silt getting in reservoirs and required rehabilitation work.“With big fires always come big floods and big debris flows,” Ekarius said.Gray said measures such as mitigating fire danger through more forest thinning can reduce the risks.
The 2013 Rim Fire in California caused $1.8 billion in environmental and property damage, or $7,800 an acre, he said.“We can do an awful lot of treatment at $7,800 an acre and actually save money,” he said.Bill Hahnenberg, who has served as incident commander on several fires, said many destructive fires are human-caused because humans live in the wildland-urban interface.“That’s why I think we should maybe pay more attention to fire prevention,” he said.
Just how large the potential consequences of fire can be was demonstrated in Glenwood Springs’ Coal Seam Fire. In that case the incident commander was close to evacuating the entire town, Hahnenberg said. “How would that play (out)?” he said. “I’m not just picking on Glenwood, it’s a question for many communities. How would you do that?” He suggested it’s a scenario communities would do well to prepare for in advance.

The chart below from EcoWest.org shows that federal spending per wildfire has exceeded $100,000 on an annual basis several times since 2002. Since 2008 the cost per acre has varied between $500 and $1,000. These numbers do not include most of the other associated costs we listed above.

 

Cost per wildfire acre

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  3896 Hits
3896 Hits
Mar
28

Drought Reinforces Need for Defensible Space

CAL FIRE is asking homeowners to prepare earlier in creating Defensible Space due to California's current drought conditions.


A few helpful reminders and safety tips include: 
  • Never mow or trim dry grass on a Red Flag Warning Day. (Mow before 10 a.m. on a day when it’s not hot and windy).
  • Never use lawn mowers in dry vegetation.
  • Spark arresters are required in wildland areas on all portable gasoline powered equipment.
  • Before starting a campfire, make sure you have a campfire permit and that they are permitted on the land you are visiting.
  • Afterwards, ensure that your campfire is properly extinguished.
4. Vehicle
  • Never pull over in dry grass.
  • Ensure trailer chains don't drag on the ground.
  • Make sure your vehicle is properly maintained. 
  • Have proper tire pressure to avoid driving on wheel rim.
  • Never let your brake pads wear too thin.
  5. Other
  • Make sure cigarette butts are properly extinguished.
  • Never burn landscape debris like leaves or branches on NO Burn Days or when it's windy or areas where not allowed.
  • Target shoot only in approved areas, use lead ammunition only, and never at metal targets.
  • Report any suspicious activities to prevent arson.

For more fire prevention tips visit www.firesafesanmateo.org or www.PreventWildfireCA.org.

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  3308 Hits
3308 Hits
Feb
09

Forest Service Researchers Develop WUI Risk Management Framework

Recent wildfire events throughout the world have highlighted the consequences of residential development in the wildland-urban interface (WUI) including hundreds to thousands of homes burned during a single wildfire to, more tragically, firefighter and homeowner fatalities. Despite substantial investments in modifying wildland fuels near populated areas, losses appear to be increasing. In this article, US Forest Service Researchers examine the conditions under which WUI wildfire disasters occur and introduce a wildfire risk assessment framework. By using this framework, the authors examine how prefire mitigation activities failed to prevent significant structure loss during the Fourmile Canyon fire outside Boulder, CO. In light of these results, the authors suggest the need to reevaluate and restructure wildfire mitigation programs aimed at reducing residential losses from wildfire.

ABSTRACT

Recent fire seasons in the western United States are some of the most damaging and costly on record. Wildfires in the wildland-urban interface on the Colorado Front Range, resulting in thousands of homes burned and civilian fatalities, although devastating, are not without historical reference. These fires are consistent with the characteristics of large, damaging, interface fires that threaten communities across much of the western United States. Wildfires are inevitable, but the destruction of homes, ecosystems, and lives is not. We propose the principles of risk analysis to provide land management agencies, first responders, and affected communities who face the inevitability of wildfires the ability to reduce the potential for loss. Overcoming perceptions of wildland-urban interface fire disasters as a wildfire control problem rather than a home ignition problem, determined by home ignition conditions, will reduce home loss.

“If our problem statement is defined a keeping wildfires out of the WUI, it is unobtainable, and large wildfires and residential disasters will continue, and likely increase.  Fuel treatments do not stop fires (just change behavior), and treatment alone without Home Ignition Zone [HIZ] treatment means that the inevitable wildfire exposure will result in structure loss……..By contrast, if the problem is identified as a home ignition, mitigation of the HIZ is the most cost-effective investment for reducing home destruction, and this can be augmented with other investments.”

 (Calkin etal, 2013 p 5-6).

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  3436 Hits
3436 Hits
Jan
31

MidPen Approves 40 Year Vision Plan With Fire Risk Reduction Components

Tthe MidPeninsula Regional Open Space District Board of Directors approved a new 40-year Vision Plan January 29, 2014.  Among the Vision Plan's priorities are Fire Management, Fire Risk Reduction, and Fire Risk Reduction on open space properties in San Mateo County.

The Vision Plan includes a slate of 25 tier-one regional open space projects ranging from opening preserves and building trail connections to improving water quality, protecting the coastline, restoring forestlands, and creating wildlife corridors in an increasingly urbanized region.

A complete list of the approved Vision Plan Priority Actions can be found at www.openspace.org/imagine.

Fire Safe San Mateo County is proud of its strong working relationship with "MidPen" and looks forward to a continued partership in reducing the risk of wildfire on MidPen lands and the adjacent San Mateo County communities.

 

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  3102 Hits
3102 Hits
Dec
18

Fire Safe San Mateo Awarded Grant for Fuel Reduction and Education

Today the California Fire Safe Council announced grants for 38 projects spanning 30 counties in California and Nevada that support CFSC’s efforts to support fire risk reduction activities by landowners and residents in at-risk communities. CFSC received 84 applications, and awarded 38 grants.

Fire Safe San Mateo County was awarded $58,580 with a match of $65,200 for education and fuel reduction. The grant will help fund and expand an existing chipper program, providing additional vegetation removal and chipping county wide, and will fund a variety of related print and web based communication tools. No other proposals in San Mateo County were funded


California Fire Safe Council (CFSC) is pleased to announce its 2014 Grants Clearinghouse Awards. Executive Director Margaret Grayson announced grants for 38 projects spanning 30 counties in California that support CFSC’s efforts to support fire risk reduction activities by landowners and residents in at-risk communities in California and Nevada. The decisions that have been made are preliminary funding decisions at this time based on funding and the next steps in the Clearinghouse.

CFSC received 84 applications totaling $8 million in grant requests and over $10 million in matching dollars. The projects are being funded by grants from the Cooperative Fire Program of the U.S. Forest Service, Department of Agriculture, Pacific Southwest Region, through the California Fire Safe Council.

Click here to view the grant summary report on the 2014 Grant Awards and the list of preliminary funded projects.

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  2928 Hits
2928 Hits
Oct
15

Firewise Encourages Homeowners to Focus on the "Home Ignition Zone" This Fall


HIZ-map
With the change in seasons, fall is an excellent time to focus “inward” on the areas closest to your home, according to the latest issue of the Firewise “How-To” Newsletter.

In the Home Ignition Zone (HIZ), debris can accumulate creating a greater risk in the event that embers or flames come near.  While the Home Ignition Zone typically includes property within 150 feet of your home, concentrating on the areas closest to your home – 0 to 5 feet from structures – can make a tremendous difference when it comes to preventing the risk of fire.

For more safety tips and to read the full story, check out the Fall 2013 issue of the Firewise “How-To” Newsletter

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  3135 Hits
3135 Hits
Oct
03

How the Fire Service, Local Officials, and the Public Can Work Together to Withstand the Devastating Effects of a Wildland Fire

They are called grass fires, forest fires, wildland fires, or by a variety of names. Yet, no matter the name, they pose an evolving threat to lives and property in an increasing number of communities across the United States.

Homes near natural areas, the wildland/urban interface (WUI), are beautiful places to live. These pristine environments add to the quality of life of residents and are valued by community leaders seeking to develop new areas of opportunity and local tax revenue, but these areas are not without risk. Fires are a part of the natural ecology, living adjacent to the wilderness means living with a constant threat of fires. Fire, by nature, is an unpredictable and often uncontrollable force.

The concept of fire-adapted communities (FACs) holds that, with proper community-wide preparation, human populations and infrastructure can withstand the devastating effects of a wildland fire, reducing loss of life and property.

This goal depends on strong and collaborative partnerships between agencies and the public at the State, Federal, and local levels, with each accepting responsibility for their part.

Your Role in Fire-Adapted Communities frames the FAC concept and current efforts to define its scope, explain the roles that groups can adopt to improve their fire safety, and provide guidance on future steps. The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) believes that by reviewing the roles and responsibilities each group can adopt now, communities will become better prepared to realize the FAC goal in the future.

Download the U.S. Fire Administration "Your Role in Fire-Adapted Communities" Handbook.

 

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  3154 Hits
3154 Hits
Sep
30

NFPA makes important safety codes and standards available for free online

As part of its commitment to enhancing public safety, NFPA makes its codes and standards available online to the public for free. Online access to NFPA's consensus documents conveniently places important safety information on the desktops of traditional users as well as others who have a keen interest. NFPA is committed to serving the public's increasing interest in technical information, and online access to these key codes is a valuable resource.

To review codes and standards online:

  • View the full list of NFPA's codes and standards.
  • Select the document you want to review.
  • Select the edition of the document you want to review.
  • Click the "Free access" link (under the document title)
  • You will be asked to "sign-in" or create a profile to access the document in read-only format.

 

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  2921 Hits
2921 Hits
Sep
26

NY Times: INTO THE WILDFIRE - What science is learning about fire and how to live with it.

NY Times: INTO THE WILDFIRE - What science is learning about fire and how to live with it.

‘By suppressing fires ... we’re saving the landscape for the worst conditions,’ a fire researcher says. ‘We need to choose good fire over bad fire, and if we understand spread we can make better choices.’

...Fire has always been a part of the natural ecology — many plant species evolved in direct response to it and couldn’t survive without it; when the sap of some pine cones melts, for example, seeds are released. But the reflexive practice of putting out all fires, which has dominated national policy for so many decades, has turned much of the American West into a tinderbox. On June 30, in the deadliest incident in wild-land firefighting in decades, 19 of the country’s most highly trained, highly skilled firefighters died in a fire near Yarnell, Ariz. While awaiting the findings from a federal investigation (expected this month), many have asked whether unexpected changes in the wind’s direction and speed, which abruptly exposed the men to the fire, were simply the most immediate factors contributing to their deaths. The Phoenix New Times, for instance, reported that the team should not have been deployed at all that day because its members may have already reached the maximum number of consecutive days they were allowed to be in the field. What’s clear, however, is that the buildup of flammable materials in the area and the ongoing drought in the Southwest contributed to the fire’s intensity. And it was a fire the firefighters were combating there in order to protect a housing subdivision on the outskirts of town...

...We probably wouldn’t be as concerned about fires that are getting bigger and spreading farther, of course, were it not for the increasing intrusion of people and buildings into fire-prone landscapes. This development creates what fire experts call the wild-land-urban interface, or WUI (pronounced WOO-ee), and from Bozeman, Mont., to Laurel Canyon in California, more and more of us want to live there, with forested views and coyotes for neighbors — but without the fire. About 80,000 wildfires in the United States were designated for suppression each year between 1998 and 2007, and only an average of 327 were allowed to burn. Yet trying to put out all those fires leads inevitably to more intense, more dangerous and more expensive fires later on. The accumulation of dead wood and unburned “ladder fuels” — what ecologists call lower vegetation that can carry fire to taller trees — turn lower-intensity fires into hotter fires that kill entire stands of trees that otherwise might survive.

Read more of this excellent article in the New York Times Magazine September 22, 2013 Online.

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  2809 Hits
2809 Hits
Sep
26

Assessing Wildfire Hazards in the Home Ignition Zone Courses to be Held in Sacramento

Destructive wildfires are affecting many areas across California, threatening communities, risking the lives of firefighters, disrupting residents through evacuations and home losses, and creating millions of dollars of damage to homes, businesses and valuable natural resources. The good news is, there are simple and often inexpensive ways to make homes safer from wildfire. With an understanding of wildfire hazards and mitigation strategies, community residents can effectively lower the wildfire risk and losses to their homes, neighborhoods and our environment.

The Sacramento (California) Metropolitan Fire Department has received a FEMA grant to complete Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPPs) and as a part of that effort is offering the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) one-day “Assessing Residential Wildfire Hazards” and two-day “Assessing Wildfire Hazards in the Home Ignition Zone”mitigation training to fire service professionals, stakeholders, proactive community residents and others interested in understanding and acting to reduce wildfire losses.

These national courses are taught by experienced wildland fire specialists and offer factual wildfire mitigation solutions and action strategies based on research and post fire investigations. Participants will learn the mitigation techniques that are most effective in reducing wildfire losses in the home ignition zone (HIZ) – the home and the surrounding 100 to 200 feet. The courses will also focus on both the physical and behavioral sciences in completing successful wildfire mitigation.

Register today for workshops beginning October 1.

For more information and to find the nearest workshop location, visithttp://metrofirecwpp.eventbrite.com/.

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  2899 Hits
2899 Hits
Aug
15

Power Lines and Fire: NPS "Fire and Fuel News"

Power lines are part of the fire environment, especially in the wildland-urban interface. They are a recurring cause of wildfires in California, and along the coast, where lightning fires are rare, power lines are one of the most common ways that wildfires start. For example, power lines were the ignition source for several recent fires in the S.F. Bay Area:
  • May 10 - Phleger Estate near Woodside, CA - 0.5 acres 
  • June 14 - Highway 1 in Olema, CA - 1.5 acres
  • July 4 - Mt. Tam near Kenfield,  CA - 1 acre
Fortunately, these fires did not start under extreme weather conditions and were quickly suppressed.  
 
Power Line Fire Prevention Field Guide has been developed for California which includes the public resource code requirements designed to prevent power line fires.  The introduction sets the stage for understanding how high winds, in combination with power lines have led to some of California's largest wildfires.
 
Read more about power lines and wildfires in the National Park Service's July 2013 "Fire and Fuel News." 
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  2749 Hits
2749 Hits
Jun
27

FEMA and Ready.gov Offer Resources for Summer Wildfire Preparedness

The summer season means more than school vacations and weekends at the pool. Summer brings an increase in the threat of wildfires and the danger that these outbreaks carry. As firefighters worked to contain wildfires across California, the National Interagency Fire Center recently published its summer fire outlook that forecasts a difficult, above average wildfire season in the West.

Wildfires spread quickly and often go undetected until it’s too late. Across our nation every year communities are affected by major wildfires. While some homes survive, more homes do not. Make sure your family and community take actions to get prepared.

The wildfire tips at Ready.gov reference the NFPA Firewise program and other excellent resources to help you prepare your home and know what to do before, during and after a fire event. 

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  2701 Hits
2701 Hits
Jun
18

Nonpartisan Economic Research Center Summarizes Rising Cost of Wildfire

Headwaters Economics, a nonpartisan economic research center in Montana, published an excellent summary on the rising costs of wildland fires in the West. Their extensive analysis covers several areas in detail:

  • A report on why wildfires are becoming more severe and expensive, and how the protection of homes in the Wildland-Urban Interface has added to these costs.
  • The potential for new home development in the wildland-urban interface (WUI) at the county and state level.
  • State-specific research on the impact of new homes and temperature change on wildfire suppression costs.
  • White Paper with suggestions for how future firefighting costs best can be controlled.

Read more here...

http://headwaterseconomics.org/wildfire/fire-research-summary

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  2591 Hits
2591 Hits
May
16

Home Survival in Wildfire-Prone Areas: Building Materials and Design Considerations

Home Survival in Wildfire-Prone Areas: Building Materials and Design Considerations

A wildfire-safe home must be an ember-ignition-resistant home, so that even if the flames do not reach your home, it will be able to withstand exposure to embers that may have been blown a mile or more in front of a wildfire.  To provide maximum wildfire protection for your home, a combination of near-home vegetation management, appropriate building materials, and related design features must be used. These points are summarized the excellent Univesity of California publication, "Home Survival in Wildfire-Prone Areas: Building Materials and Design Considerations."

Preparing and maintaining adequate defensible space will guard against flame contact and radiant exposures from nearby vegetation—but because of the likely ember exposure to your home during a wildfire, you cannot ignore building material and design considerations. Similarly, if you ignore your defensible space (i.e., you do not have it or do not maintain it), the wildfire will produce maximum ember, flame, and radiant exposures to your home.  It is very unlikely that even hardened buildings can survive such exposure, as a weak link will likely exist somewhere in the building enclosure.

Learn more about hardening your home against wildfire with these tips from FIRE SAFE San Mateo County...

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2892 Hits
Apr
16

CAL FIRE Forms FC-31 and FC-32 Available for Download by Project Sponsors

Fire Safe San Mateo partners with CAL FIRE and California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to conduct fuel reduction and vegetation management projects in San Mateo County.  With 17 members and a Fire Captain, Fire Crews are one of the most efficient resources available to create fuel breaks and conduct mechanical thinning of overgrown vegetation.

Project sponsors working with CAL FIRE crews in San Mateo County must have a form FC-31 (MOU) and FC-32 signed and on file with CAL FIRE.  

The Sponsor shall submit project proposals on a form approved by CAL FIRE (currently an FC-32).  By doing so, with reference to any such proposals subsequently approved by the CAL FIRE, Sponsor agrees to:

  • Pay for all costs directly related to and necessitated by such projects, except for wages, salaries, and other remuneration paid to CAL FIRE employees, inmates, or wards, and the cost of their support.
  • Demonstrate the availability of adequate plans and specifications, sufficient funds, materials, supplies, and equipment, adequate technical supervision and any special labor requirements to complete such projects.
  • Obtain the approvals, notification, and permits required by any state, federal, or local agency necessary to commence construction, fuels management, or operation of such projects.
  • Hold an orientation meeting with CAL FIRE at the commencement of such projects to explain the technical aspects, execution of, and need for such projects.

Download Forms FC-31 and FC-32 here...

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  6745 Hits
6745 Hits
Apr
16

Planners Play Important Role in Wildfire Safety Regulations

For residents living in the WUI, being closer to nature offers many benefits, but the risk of wildfires is often overlooked. NFPA's new best practices guide, Community Wildfire Safety through Regulation, provides options for planners and local communities considering wildfire regulations and the resources to help them adopt effective WUI tools that match local needs.

This guide is designed to help planners and local communities considering wildfire regulations to understand their options and implement a successful public process to adopt effective WUI tools that match local needs.

Read More at NFPA

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  2544 Hits
2544 Hits
Apr
16

Fire Departments Engage Residents in Wildfire Safety Programs (NFPA)

Fire departments work with reduced budgets and limited resources for fighting fire, but are still challenged with finding innovative ways to help protect their communities including working together with residents in wildfire risk mitigation activities.

NFPA’s new DVD, Before the Smoke! Preparing Your Community for Wildfire, highlights the work of three local fire departments whose ongoing relationship with their residents allowed them to create a community better prepared for the threat of wildfire. The DVD also provides important information about key programs that communities can engage in during the year including Firewise® and Ready, Set, Go, which are a part of the Fire Adapted Communities® initiative.

Watch a clip of the DVD below:

 

The DVD can found on NFPA's wildfire safety online catalog

NFPA also provides other materials to help guide your mitigation activities with neighbors and friends. 

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  2335 Hits
2335 Hits
Apr
16

72,000 Communities in US are at High-Risk of Wildfire

72,000 Communities in US are at High-Risk of Wildfire

More than 72,000 communities in the U.S. are located in high-risk wildfire areas, according to the 2012 National Association of State Foresters' Communities at Risk report. The report, which provides a national snapshot of wildland fire risk, preparedness and capacity, is the result of a survey of all states to determine the progress in identifying communities threatened by wildfire and the ongoing development of Community Wildfire Protection Plans.

The National Association of State Foresters  (NASF) recently published the FY 2012 Communities at Risk (CAR) report.  The purpose of the report is to determine progress in identifying communities at risk and developing Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPPs).

Read the full report here...

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  2455 Hits
2455 Hits
Apr
09

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

FIRE SAFE San Mateo has launched our presence onto Facebook and Twitter, where we will share updates on our projects and relevant wildfire prevention information to residents and visitors to San Mateo County.

Please Like Us on Facebook, and Follow Us on Twitter to keep up to date.  

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  2427 Hits
2427 Hits
Apr
09

"Lessons from the Waldo Canyon Fire" Webinar

Join the International Association of Fire Chiefs Thursday, April 18 at 11 am ET, as they present Lessons from the Waldo Canyon Fire to consider how  Colorado Spring’s wildland fire safety programs might be applied in your community.

Last summer, the Waldo Canyon Fire destroyed 345 homes and resulted in the evacuation of more than 30,000 residents from the city of Colorado Springs.  In the wake of the tragic fire, members of the Fire Adapted Communities (FAC) Coalition visited the area to learn how the city’s decade-long wildland fire safety programs had affected the outcome of the fire. A final report and video were recently released as result of interviews, field visits and tours of the city’s most affected neighborhoods the Coalition’s assessment team conducted during the three-day visit to the area in July 2012.

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  2441 Hits
2441 Hits
Mar
21

National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy: Draft Western Regional Action Plan Released

The challenges presented by wildfire today, from the heavy vegetation on forests and rangelands to the communities at risk situated near these tinderboxes, are simply too complex to solve alone. To address these challenges, a broad cross-section of stakeholders has formed A National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy…

The Western Regional Action Plan is part of the culmination of a three-year effort put into motion by the Federal Land Assistance, Management and Enhancement Act of 2009 (FLAME Act). Representatives of federal, state, local, and tribal governments, scientists, interested governmental and nongovernmental organizations, businesses and industries worked together to develop a regional approach to achieving the goals of the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy: Restore and Maintain Landscapes, Fire Adapted Communities, and Wildfire Response. The Western Regional Action Plan was developed with stakeholder input in an inclusive and transparent process. It is a dynamic document that will be updated continually and modified on a five-year basis to best focus on the issues of concern in terms of wildland fire in the West.

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  2614 Hits
2614 Hits
Mar
07

California Fire Science Consortium: New Research

Ecological effects of alternative fuels treatments: Highlights from the Fire and Fire Surrogates study. February 2013.
McIver, J.D.; Stephens, S.L.; Agee, J.K.; et al. 2013. Ecological effects of alternative fuel-reduction treatments: highlights of the National Fire and Fire Surrogates (FFS) study. International Journal of Wildland Fire, 22(1): 63-82.

High-severity wildfire effects on carbon stocks and emissions in fuels treated and untreated forest. February 2013.
North, M. and M. Hurteau. 2011. High-severity wildfire effects on carbon stocks and emissions in fuels treated and untreated forest. Forest Ecology and Management. 261: 1115-1120.

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  2536 Hits
2536 Hits
Mar
01

Arbor Week Poster Contest: CAL FIRE

Trees are an essential part of California's climate and are vital to improving the state's air quality and water conservation. To help educate Californians on the value that trees provide to building successful, healthy cities and neighborhoods, California celebrats March 7-14 of each year as California Arbor Week.

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  3099 Hits
3099 Hits
Feb
28

You Need Defensible Space

Homes with defensible space have a much greater chance of surviving a wildfire than homes without.  Fire Safe San Mateo encourages you to give your house a fighting chance during a potential wildfire by establishing defensible space around your home.  Defensible space breaks up the continuous path of plants that could carry wildfire to your home. And it gives firefighters a safe zone from which to fight a wildfire.  It’s worth your effort.

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  2862 Hits
2862 Hits
Feb
28

Research: The Importance of Community Wildfire Protection Planning

recent research article in the latest Society of American Foresters Journal of Forestry, December 2012 discusses the importance of community wildfire protection planning in engaging residents and other stakeholders in efforts to address their mutual concern about wildland fire management, hazardous fuel and forest health project prioritization.  It was interesting to note that of the 13Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPP) that were studied 7 of these communities have one or more recognized Firewise Communities/USA® sites located within the geographical bounds of the CWPP planning area . 

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  2679 Hits
2679 Hits
Feb
28

NFPA Report Outlines Roles for Youth in Reducing Wildfire Risk

The NFPA's Wildland Fire Operations Division's recently released a report titled Engaging Youth in Reducing Wildfire Risk.  Their blog examines why middle and high school students can and should have a role in reducing wildfire risk in the communities where they live.  The report looks at existing programs throughout the country, youth preparedness research, findings from a series of six interactive workshops with students living in areas impacted by wildfire and a questionnaire distributed to teachers in four communities that recently experienced a wildland fire event.

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  2629 Hits
2629 Hits