Source: Valley Roadrunner

Wildfire safety check on Palomar Mountain

by Susan Mish, staff writer

July 24, 2014

The Forest Service has kicked its fire safety campaign into high gear by going to properties on Palomar Mountain and checking them for fire safety. Flyers have been left on doors offering tips for homeowners to make homes more fire safe by creating 100 feet of defensible space. While some properties meet the criteria for being fire safe, others have areas of concern. If a potential fire hazard exists on the property, the property owner is notified with a Legal Notice to Remove Fire Hazards. The problematic fire hazard must be resolved within two weeks.

An excerpt from the San Diego County Code of Regulatory Ordinance of the Public Safety Group for Defensible Space for Fire Protection reads as follows:

“The Board of Supervisors makes the following findings and declarations: the accumulation of combustible vegetation, dead, dying, or diseased trees, green waste, rubbish, and other flammable materials which are dangerous to property and to the health, welfare, and safety of residents on private property is hereby found to create a condition that is a fire hazard and potentially injurious to the health, safety, and general welfare of the public. Therefore, the presence of such combustible vegetation, dead, dying, or diseased trees, green waste, rubbish, and other materials on parcels as hereinafter defined is hereby declared to constitute a public nuisance which may be abated in accordance with the provisions of the chapter.

The ordinance will provide a more defensible space for fire suppression personnel to operate, and will allow for public nuisance abatement when property owners allow combustible vegetation and other flammable materials to accumulate in violation of this ordinance.”

Combustible vegetation is material that in its natural state will readily ignite, burn, and transmit fire from native or landscape plants to any structure or other vegetation. Combustible vegetation includes dry grass, brush, weeds, litter, or other flammable vegetation that creates a fire hazard.

Dead, dying, or diseased trees include pest or pathogen infested trees, abandoned or neglected groves or other trees which are in a dying condition or no longer living.

Defensible space is an area either natural or man-made, where material capable of allowing a fire to spread unchecked has been treated, cleaned, or modified to slow the rate and intensity of an advancing wildfire and to create an area for the suppression operations to occur.

Green waste includes, but is not limited to organic material such as yard trimmings, plant waste, untreated wood wastes, paper products, material fiber products, mulch, and compost.

In addition to creating 100 feet of defensible space, it is requested that homeowners post their house address in a minimum of four-inch numbers. The area around a propane tank should be clear ten feet around. Dirt should not be close to the tank as this causes faster rusting. Branches should not be within ten feet of a chimney. Some insurance companies don’t want trees hanging over the rest of the house.

Protect your home and yard from wild land fire by doing the following:

- Abide by local building, fire, and hazard abatement codes.

- Install a smoke detector on each level of your home and test them twice monthly.

- Clear combustible vegetation in a 100-foot radius from any structure.

When fire approaches:

- Evacuate as soon as directed by public safety officials.

- Place your disaster kit along with valuables and other essentials in your vehicle.

In San Diego County wildfires, both human caused and naturally occurring, are a major hazard to communities. The value and safety of property and family is increased when residents assess their wildlife risk, safeguard homes, and prepare for the next firestorm.

You can prepare by:

- Register mobile phones with the Alert San Diego Emergency Notification System.

- Protect your home by creating and maintaining a defensible space around your home.

- Use fire-resistive landscaping to reduce fire risk to your home.

- Modify your house exterior to make it less vulnerable to burning embers.

In 2009, an unprecedented region-wide fire preparedness campaign was launched by the San Diego County Office of Emergency Services partnering with the San Diego County Fire Chiefs Association and Farmers Insurance Group. A door-to-door campaign on July 25 and August 1 was coordinated by OES in which 55 fire departments and thousands of community volunteers delivered preparedness materials to homes adjacent to wildfire areas or urban canyons. The goal of the campaign was to distribute 400,000 DVD packets to San Diego County residents through the fire season. The DVD was produced to inform the San Diego region about fire hazards and steps residents can take to decrease risks on their property.

For more information on wildfire safety, call the Forest Service at (619) 876-8946.