Fire Safe San Mateo News

Wildfire Safety Blog and News from Fire Safe San Mateo.

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.


Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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, visit

Continue reading

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." 
Continue reading

FEMA and 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 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. 

Continue reading

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...

Continue reading

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...

Continue reading

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...

Continue reading

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

Continue reading

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. 

Continue reading

Copyright 2012-2020. FIRE SAFE San Mateo County | SiteAdmin | Web Design by XMR Fire