The City of Santa Rosa Fire Department and the Sonoma County Fire Prevention Officers Association are asking residents to begin taking steps to prepare properties and update household emergency plans ahead of wildfire season. Proactive measures taken now while there is more time at home during the public health emergency could go a long way to protect citizens and properties for the next several months during the height of a potentially hot and dry season.
While the Shelter in Place Order may limit some preparedness activities, many things can still be done while staying within the mandates of the Order, including:
- Maintaining a ‘defensible space’ of at least 30 feet around the home: trim back trees, especially low hanging branches and branches near rooflines a distance of at least 10 feet.
- Cleaning the roof and the gutters of debris.
- Raking up and removing leaves from around your home.
- Moving wood pile and other combustible materials away from your home or deck.
- Inspecting and repairing exterior siding, including dry rot, gaps, cracks, and warping to protect your home from embers.
For additional tips on wildfire preparedness for property owners in Sonoma County, view Fire Safe Sonoma’s Ready, Set, Go booklet.
The Sonoma County Health Order requiring residents to shelter-in-place does allow property owners to shop for tools and materials needs to prepare for fire season as well as hire workers to create defensible space and perform repairs for fire-safety. When performing these essential activities workers must:
- Wear a face covering at all times;
- Maintain six feet of social/physical distancing; and
- Avoid entering the property owners’ home.
Once Fire Season is declared, the Santa Rosa Fire Department will also initiate annual weed abatement inspections to ensure required properties cut weeds and seasonal grasses that are over four inches in height and maintain this practice throughout the fire season. Properties required to take this measure include those within the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI), on vacant lots (including those in fire rebuilding areas), or on developed properties with more than a half-acre of unimproved land. For more information on the City’s Weed Abatement Program and to determine if a property is located in the WUI, visit srcity.org/WeedAbatement.
Additionally, residents should spend some time reviewing their emergency plans and discussing the plans with all members of their households, as well as taking stock of emergency essentials (e.g. food and water) and assessing “Go Bags” (e.g. clothing, medicine, important documents), and reviewing household evacuation procedures. The City of Santa Rosa has emergency planning resources available for residents online at srcity.org/KnowYourWaysOut.