Sonoma County residents and landscape contractors are urged to use proper equipment and adhere to recommendations when cutting dry seasonal grasses in an effort to help reduce the threat of fires this wildfire season. Jurisdictions across Sonoma County have Weed Abatement Ordinances that require applicable property owners keep weeds and grasses cut down and maintained throughout the duration of the fire season. As part of this requirement, it is critical that property owners, contractors, and retailers are aware of the proper mechanical equipment recommended for safe weed abatement and how to properly use that equipment in order to prevent additional fires this season in our community.
Fire departments across Sonoma County have responded to numerous fires that were preventable just in the last three months. It many cases, improper equipment was being used to cut dry grasses and open fields. Most mowers are designed to cut normal residential grasses. Operators should not attempt to use a lawn mower to mow through unusually tall, dry grass or piles of dry leaves. The metal blades can strike a rock and ignite a fire.
Fire officials recommend that weed abatement and mowing of seasonal grasses be conducted before 10 a.m. and should be avoided altogether during excessively dry, hot, and windy days. In addition, efforts should be made to ensure the appropriate equipment is being used. Consider renting or purchasing a walk behind weed eater, high weed mower or weed eater that is designed for use on dry seasonal grasses. Community members can check the warning labels or consult the user’s manual to ensure the equipment you plan to utilize is designed for the intended use.
Please review the following tips to make sure you’re doing your part to avoid sparking a wildfire:
- Review One less Spark – One Less Wildfire campaign information on CAL FIRE’s website ReadyForWildfire.org
- Ensure spark arresters are in place on all portable gasoline powered equipment including tractors, chain saws, weed eaters, mowers, brush cutters, etc.
- Keep the exhaust system, spark arresters, and mower in proper working order and free of carbon buildup.
- Remove rocks in the area before you begin operating any equipment – a rock hidden in grass or weeds is enough to spark a fire when struck by a metal blade.
- Keep the engine free of oil and dust and keep the mower free of flammable materials.
- Have a round-point shovel, cell phone to call 9-1-1, a back-pump water-type fire extinguisher, or water supply ready to use.
Following these safety tips and operating machinery correctly can help prevent fires and keep Sonoma County safer for the duration of this fire season and future seasons to come. Visit your local fire department’s website for additional information.