News Flash

Fire Department News

Posted on: August 31, 2022

Wildfire Ready: Maintaining Weeds & Dry Grasses During Fire Season with Proper Equipment & Protocols

NF_Maintaning Weeds and Dry Grasses

The hot and dry conditions forecasted this Labor Day Weekend serve as a good reminder for Santa Rosa residents and landscape contractors to do their part to reduce the continued threat of wildfires this season by using proper equipment and adhere to the following recommendations when cutting and maintaining dry seasonal grasses. Jurisdictions across Sonoma County have Weed Abatement Ordinances requiring applicable property owners to keep weeds and grasses cut down and maintained throughout the fire season. As part of this requirement, property owners, contractors, and retailers must be aware of the proper mechanical equipment recommended for safe weed abatement and how to properly use that equipment to prevent additional fires this season in our community.

The Santa Rosa Fire Department has responded to numerous fires that were preventable. In 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.

Learn more about Weed Abatement and other related topics at srcity.org/WildfireReady.

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