Petaluma 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. In residential neighborhoods where this may not be possible, clear weeds from yards and follow the additional guidelines below.
- Cleaning the roof and the gutters of debris and rake up and remove leaves from around your home.
- Move 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.
Petaluma Fire Department annually implements a weed abatement program to ensure required properties cut weeds and seasonal grasses that are over 6 inches in height and maintain this practice throughout the fire season, until the first major rains of the fall. Properties required to take this measure have been notified by mail and have a compliance date of May 31st, 2020. For more information on the City’s Weed Abatement Program, please visit https://cityofpetaluma.org/weed-abatement/
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.