FAQs for Household Hazardous Waste & Fire Debris Removal Cleanup
- General Questions About Cleanup
- Hazardous Waste Sweeps (Phase 1)
- State Debris Removal Option (Phase 2)
- Private Debris Removal Option (Phase 2)
- Standing Homes & HHW/ Debris Removal
- Damaged Hazardous Tree Removal
Who placed the signs on my destroyed/damaged property?
When can my destroyed vehicle be removed?
What are property owner responsibilities for protecting ash and debris runoff?
PHASE 1 HOUSEHOLD HAZARDOUS WASTE (HHW) SWEEPS
Read additional FAQs from Cal OES and Cal Recycle related to Phase 1
Will all hazardous waste be removed?
Will fire debris be removed as part of the Phase 1 Household Hazardous Waste Sweep?
How much will Phase 1 cost?
What if I want to opt out of the Phase 1 Household Hazardous Waste Sweep and hire someone to remove my own Household Hazardous Waste?
Will we need to be there, or can we be there, during the Phase 1 process?
How will I know that the Phase 1 Household Hazardous Waste Sweep process has started and completed?
Can I be sued by the State or their contractor that is removing Household Hazardous Waste from my property?
Why is the State conducting an emergency sweep of all burned properties to remove Household Hazardous Waste?
State Consolidated Debris Removal Program (Phase 2)
The following FAQs were provided from Cal OES and Cal Recycle
What is Phase 2 of the Consolidated Debris Removal Program?
The Consolidated Debris Removal Program has two phases: removal of household hazardous waste and removal of other fire-related debris including hazard trees.
In Phase II, Cal OES, FEMA, and local officials will coordinate with the State’s Debris Task Force to conduct fire-related debris removal from your property if you have elected to participate in the State’s program by signing a Right-of-Entry Form.
(The ROE form and all required accompanying documents must be coordinated and submitted through the County of Sonoma Department of Health Services, Environmental Health. To access the ROE form, learn more about how to submit the form, or to schedule an appointment with County Environmental Health staff to get assistance with completing the form, please visit the County of Sonoma website.)
What do I need to do to enroll in the State's Phase 2 program?
Contact local government officials to get a Right-of-Entry (ROE) form. You will fill out the form to grant government contractors access to your property to conduct the debris removal. Check your local government’s website for information on how to obtain the form or visit wildfirerecovery.org.
What is a ROE form?
After I turn in a ROE to my local government, what happens next?
First, your local government will review your ROE and ensure it has been filled out correctly. It will also cross check property records to verify that you are the property owner. Afterwards, the ROE will be transferred to the State’s debris task force for processing and scheduling.
If I missed the ROE deadline may I still submit a form?
ROEs submitted after the deadline must be reviewed on a case–by-case basis by the city/county.
Is the debris removal program only for houses that are completely destroyed?
This debris removal program is for fire-damaged or destroyed houses. Homes that have mostly burned, but may have walls still standing, may be eligible for the State’s debris removal program on a case by case basis. When you submit your Right-of-Entry permit, notify the representative that your structure is not completely destroyed, so your property may be reviewed as quickly as possible. You should also include with your Right-of-Entry permit, a “total loss” letter from your insurance company, if insured.
When will my debris be cleared?
Crews have already begun removal of hazardous household waste across the State. Removal of fire debris, other than hazardous household waste, is scheduled to begin in December of 2020.
There are a number of factors that determine when your lot will be scheduled for debris removal. The local government sets priorities within the community, such as properties that are near public use facilities and areas with sensitive receptors, such as schools, parks, and nursing homes. Secondly, they prioritize areas that are a threat to the environment, such as near creeks and other bodies of water. To maximize efficiency, the State will schedule the properties as best they can in groups to maximize efficiency and overall productivity to restore the communities as quickly as possible.
What is soil testing? Why is this being performed, and how? Who tests the soil?
Crews scrape 3 – 6” of soil from the ash footprint and samples are sent to a state-approved lab for analysis. The results are compared against background samples taken from areas in the vicinity that are not directly impacted by fire to ensure that all contaminated ash was removed. If necessary, more soil is removed and the site is retested until it comes back clear of contaminants or it is determined the contents of the soil are consistent with the background levels of similar soil on a property. All soil testing results are returned to the State’s Debris Task Force for final review and validation.
After debris clearance and soil testing, what are the next steps?
Once the State’s Debris Task Force has ensured that contractors have removed all debris and soil testing meets California state standards, contractors will return to install erosion control methods. The State’s Debris Task Force will then report to your local government that your lot is clear. Your local government will then notify you that your property is safe and ready for rebuilding.
Once the household hazardous waste is removed by the State or federal contractor, can property owners hire their own contractors to remove the remaining debris?
Yes. If you decide to remove fire-related debris from your property, you must obtain all the necessary permits and environmental clearances from the City of Santa Rosa before your contractors start any work. Download a Glass Fire Private Debris Removal Application
I own a private-non-profit or a commercial property and it was damaged in the fire, is my property eligible?
These properties may be approved by the State on a case by case basis. The State will consider the commercial property owners ability to cause the work to be performed and whether the debris on the property presents an immediate threat to the health and safety of the community.
Health and Safety
My house was destroyed in the fire. Can I go back onto my property to see if I can find any valuables or mementos?
Safe sifting through your property will NOT jeopardize your claims for disaster assistance. Property owners who desire to search debris for possible salvageable items should do so with caution and with proper protective gear: eye protection, masks, gloves, long-sleeved shirts, and long pants. Residents should minimize contact with fire debris, which may contain materials that can be hazardous to your health. For more information, visit the state public health websites:
Can I be present during the cleanup of my personal property?
Owners do not need to be present but are welcome to view the cleanup on their property from a safe distance. To prevent safety hazards, the public is encouraged to stay away from areas where debris removal operations are underway. Exclusion zones will be established surrounding the work area to ensure the safety of the public and workers.
How is the State’s Debris Task Force protecting our rivers, streams, and aquifers from contamination?
The State’s Debris Task Force will use erosion controls on the site as well as use silt collection devices around storm drains to minimize impacts to rivers, streams, and the aquifers. They are also taking measures such as wrapping the debris in trucks to minimize particles traveling from the air to the water.
Who ensures compliance with worker safety regulations?
The State’s safety professionals and contractor safety professionals ensure work complies with all OSHA, Cal/OSHA standards.
What safety and environmental regulations are contractors required to comply with?
Contractors are required to comply with all local, state, and federal laws and regulations regarding safety and the environment. Whenever there is a conflict between codes or regulations, the most stringent regulation is applied.
How are properties prioritized for debris removal?
A: Debris removal officials will give initial priority to sites in or near sensitive areas such as watersheds, schools, day care centers and health-care facilities. Debris removal officials will then try to identify areas where there are clusters of eligible properties.
When will crews be on my property?
Due to the high volume of program participants, we are unable to give property owners an exact date for their cleanup. However, you will receive a call from between 24-48 hours before the removal takes place.
Payment and Insurance
Who will pay for the debris removal?
All upfront costs will be paid by state and federal agencies. However, if property owners have homeowner’s insurance covering debris removal, owners must inform local officials by indicating that coverage on their ROE. Homeowners will be required to remit that portion of their insurance proceeds specifically reserved for debris (see additional clarification below).
If I have homeowner’s insurance, can I still participate in the debris removal program?
Yes. However, to avoid a duplication of benefits provided by the state or federal government, your insurance company will be required to provide payment from your policy designated for debris removal to the government. (See additional clarification below)
What portion of my homeowner’s policy will the city/county collect for debris removal?
It depends on the policy that you have. There are generally two types of debris removal coverages in a homeowner’s insurance policy:
- Specified Amount: One type of debris removal insurance coverage contains a separate, specific debris clause, typically capped at a percentage of the coverage amounts listed in the policy (for example, 5 percent of the value of a primary structure, other structure, and personal property.) In this case, the city/county will only collect from your insurance policy the specified amount designated in the debris removal clause. You will not owe the county any additional money, even if the actual costs to remove the debris exceed the amount designated in your insurance policy for debris removal.
- No Specified Amount: Another type of debris removal insurance policy does not have a specified amount but includes the costs of debris removal in the total proceeds provided for the primary structure, other structure, or personal property. If you have this type of policy, the city/county will only attempt to collect insurance proceeds for debris removal after you have rebuilt your home. The county will only collect any money that remains in your insurance policy, if any, after the rebuild. The homeowner will not owe the county any additional money for debris removal.
Note: Property owners may be able to first utilize debris removal insurance claim payments for debris removal work that is outside the scope of the state-managed program, such as the removal of pools and driveways, and trees/fencing/outbuildings outside the ash footprint. Contact your insurance provider for specifics on your policy.
If I participate in the Consolidated Debris Removal Program, will the city/county have the right to take all of my insurance proceeds?
No. The city/county will only seek reimbursement from the insurance carrier as stated above.
If I opt in to the state/government program, can I change my mind and opt out at a later time? If I opt in to the state/government program and later opt out, will I owe the state/county any money?
If a property owner opts out after the debris removal has started, the property owner will be responsible for reimbursing any available insurance proceeds, related to debris removal, collected to offset any debris expenditures from the State.
Can I use my debris removal insurance policy to remove items that are ineligible for removal under the Consolidated Debris Removal program?
Yes. If you have a specified amount for debris removal in your insurance policy, you may use your insurance proceeds to remove fire-related debris that is ineligible for removal under the program (e.g., swimming pools, patios, trees, etc.). The local government will only collect remaining insurance proceeds, if any, after you have removed ineligible fire-related debris.
If your homeowner’s insurance policy does not have a separate, debris-specific clause and instead includes the costs of debris removal in the total coverage, you may use these proceeds to pay for the removal of fire-related debris that is ineligible for removal under the program. The local government will only collect remaining insurance proceeds, if any, after you have removed ineligible fire-related debris.
In either scenario, the property owner will be required to substantiate all expenditures.
Will the State’s Debris Task Force use local contractors in this effort?
The State’s Debris Task Force will choose a prime contractor who will hire subcontractors. The State’s Debris Task Force will make every effort to encourage the prime contractor to use local subcontractors.
If you have any questions regarding the Consolidated Debris Removal Program, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website at wildfirerecovery.org.
Will the State’s Consolidated Debris Removal Program remove trees from my property?
Yes, the debris removal contractor will remove trees that are a threat to the safety of the debris removal crews while working on your property and trees that are dead or likely to die within five years as a result of the fire, as determined by a certified arborist, that present a threat to public health and safety on the public Right of Way (ROW), i.e. roadways, and/or public infrastructure, fire hydrants, water meters, etc.
Will debris removal crews be looking for code violations or other property infractions?
No. Debris removal crews are on properties to perform specific operations related to the removal of contaminated soil, ash/debris, concrete, and metals.
I don’t have any burned structures on my property, but I have burned trees, am I eligible for the State’s Debris Removal Program?
Yes. Whether or not you have a burned structure, if you believe you have trees on your property that are dead or likely to die within five years as a result of the fire, you should submit a Right of Entry Form to your county. The State will use a certified arborist to determine whether the trees on your property present a threat to the public Right of Way (ROW), i.e. roadways, and/or public infrastructure, fire hydrants, water meters, etc.
Are swimming pools eligible for the State Phase 2 Program?
Pools are ineligible, however Hazardous floating debris will be removed by the crews.
Can I do my own work or hire my own contractor?
Yes. Property owners who wish to conduct their own cleanup or hire private contractors to remove wildfire debris may do so, but they should be aware of local safety and environmental standards and requirements. The city/county will require the same work practices, proper cleanup to comparable standards, and safe disposal requirements as the state-managed operations. Available state funding will only pay for work done through the state-run program. Contact your local government for more information on private cleanups.
PHASE 2 Debris Removal
Can I begin removing my structural Phase 2 debris before Household Hazardous Waste Removal (Phase 1) is complete?
Where can I get a list of qualified contractors to hire for Phase 2 Debris Removal?
Will soil testing be required for Phase 2, and how should I conduct soil testing?
What if I have a Septic System and/or Water Well?