FIRESafe MARIN News

Wildfire Safety Blog and News from FIRESafe MARIN.

UC Marin Master Gardener: Fire-Smart Landscaping Tip

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Maintaining a Fire-Smart Landscape

Fall is a great time to do fire-smart maintenance. Here are some tips from UC Marin Master Gardeners:

  • Check gutters, roof, eaves, vents, and chimney for leaf and needle litter.
  • Remember to clear branches 10 feet from the roof.
  • Beyond 5 feet from all structures, apply composted wood mulch chips to feed the soil, control weeds in the spring, control soil erosion and enhance the appearance of your garden.
  • Separate wood mulched areas with noncombustible materials such as granite, gravel and stone to create fuel breaks, discouraging fire from traveling along a continuous path.
  • Rake-up and compost or remove fallen leaves and evergreen needles. The spots where leaves collect are where embers ignite a fire.
  • Remove dead vegetation and dry grasses.
  • Prune or remove plants to eliminate fuel ladders and to separate shrubs.

 Questions about creating a fire-smart landscape? Visit http://marinmg.ucanr.edu/Fire-smart_Landscaping/

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Climate, Environment and Wildfire Coalition

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As wildfires surged in 2017 and 2018 those of us in the climate and environmental community focused on the connection between wildfires and climate change. We noticed heat waves, melting snow earlier in the spring, alarming rise in state’s average temperature, and prolonged drought. Scientists agree that climate change has increased the length of the season and the frequency of extreme weather events. 

A leading climate scientist at University of California, Merced, estimated that the frequency of extreme wildfires would increase by nearly 50 percent if global greenhouse gas emissions continued at a high rate. At the same time other environmental organizations were raising concerns about the impact of wildfires on biodiversity and the ecology of Marin’s vegetation landscape.

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Biomass Recovery Study

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A working group of the Marin Wildfire Prevention Authority/Ecologically Sound Practices Partnership has started a Biomass Recovery study, working in concert with resource haulers and processors, to identify responsible ways to manage the increased amounts of organic material being generated by both wildfire prevention activities and curbside collection programs. The Biomass Recovery study is based on the solution/proposal endorsed by Drawdown: Marin, a county-wide campaign to reduce greenhouse gas emissions dramatically and prepare the County for climate change impacts.

With the passage of Measure C and formation of the MWPA we are anticipating considerable growth in biomass generation. PG&E wildfire prevention plans call for hugely expanded tree trimmings and removal. Landowners costs for vegetation management are mushrooming.  Options are limited or unknown. The costs of transporting the woody biomass are substantial and the systems for handling are burdened.

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UC Marin Master Gardener: Fire-Smart Landscaping Tip

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Water Wise and Fire-Smart. 

Water is a precious resource in our drought prone climate. So, water wisely and make your garden fire-smart. Here’s what you can do:

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Marin Wildfire Prevention Authority Update

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The Marin Wildfire Protection Agency Authority (MWPA) was created with the passage of Proposition C on March 3, 2020.  The Agency MWPA is a Joint Powers Authority composed of 17 taxing authorities that represent all of  Marin with the exception of Belvedere and Tiburon.  The MWPA was formed to develop and implement a comprehensive wildfire prevention, education,  and emergency preparedness plan throughout most of Marin County. Key elements of this program include: fuel reduction; improved wildfire detection, warnings and evacuation routes; low income grants; public education; defensible space evaluations; and local wildfire mitigation.

The MWPA organizational structure includes three tiers.  The Board of Directors is composed of one elected official from each of the 17 Agencies, the Operations Committee is made up of a combination of fire officials and town managers from the Agencies and the Technical Advisory Committee has Agency representation plus a variety of stakeholders such as FIRESafe MARIN, environmental organizations, Marin County Open Space District, Marin Municipal Water District and others.  An important advisory group is the Ecologically Sound Practices Partnership which is a collaboration between the fire authorities and climate and environmental organizations to mitigate the risk of wildfires wisely. The coalition works as advisors to the fire professionals, defining best environmental practices to guide the implementation of the wildfire prevention plans and offering expertise and recommendations on specific projects.

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FIRESafe MARIN Launches New Chipper Program for 2020

The Marin Wildfire Prevention Authority (MWPA) approved FIRESafe MARIN's (FSM) request for $500,000 to conduct a curbside pickup chipping program for residents of Marin County.  Our proposal stated that we would provide one pick up service for each Firewise Site and provide two additional days of service to each of the 17 agencies that constitute the MWPA.  The intent of the additional service is to more equitably distribute the program throughout the county and to allow the participating agencies to determine areas of need within their jurisdiction.

There are approximately 20,000 residences within Marin's 70 Firewise communities.   Based on FSM's past experience managing chipper programs, we estimate that approximately 10% of homes in a given community will participate in a curbside chipping program.   One contracted chipping crew is able to pick up, chip and dispose of qualified vegetation from approximately 30 homes per day.   Our budget allows us to provide one time curb service to approximately 2000 residences (10% of Firewise Sites) utilizing two contracted crews making 30 pickups each per day.  In addition, our budget enables us to provide two crew days – each making 30 stops – to each of the 17 MWPA member agencies.   Assuming a 10% participation rate, this allows us to service 500-600 non-Firewise homes in each of the 17 agencies.

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Wildfire Preparedness Webinars begin TONIGHT (May 4, 2020)

You are invited to join FIRESafe MARIN for our first Wildfire Preparedness Webinar tonight (May 4, 2020) at 6pm!  

An extension of our popular "Living With Fire" community education seminars, we're launching a regular series of 30-60 minute online webinars to help Marin residents and homeowners prepare for wildfire.

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Wildfire Preparedness Week Day 3: Focus on "Zone Zero"

A simple, 7 day guide to improving your home and family's wildfire preparedness with easy, inexpensive tips.

Day 3: Clear Combustibles Within 5' of Your Home

The area nearest your house, from 0' to 5', including the surfaces of the structure itself, is the most vulnerable area.  We call this "ZONE ZERO," because it's ground-zero when it comes to protecting your home from embers. It's the area closest to your house, including plants, decks, outdoor furniture, and the outside walls and coverings.  This area is most vulnerable and should be more aggressively maintained for fire resistance. There should be ZERO combustibles in this zone! 

  • Remove combustible outdoor furniture.  Replace with metal or non-combustible varieties.
  • Replace jute or natural fiber doormats with heavy rubber or metal grates.
  • Remove or relocate all combustible materials including garbage and recycling containers, lumber, trash, and patio accessories.
  • Clean all fallen leaves and needles.
  • No vegetation or plantings are recommended within 5’ of any structure.
  • Remove tree limbs that extend into this zone.  Fire-prone tree varieties should be removed if they extend into this zone.
  • Do not store firewood, lumber, or combustibles here, even (especially) under decks or overhangs.  Move stored combustibles inside or at least 30’ from any structure.
  • Use only inorganic, non-combustible mulches such as stone or gravel.
  • Hardscaping is strongly recommended around the base of structures.
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Wildfire Preparedness Week Day 2: Cut Your Grass!

Wildfire Preparedness Week Day 2: Cut Your Grass!

It's Wildfire Preparedness Week.  Follow our daily updates for an easy, step by step guide to protecting your home!

This week, FIRESafe MARIN will provide a simple, 7 day guide to improving your home and family's wildfire preparedness with simple, easy, inexpensive tips.

Day 2: Cut Your Grass!

Marin's grasslands provide the fuel for our most frequent and fast moving wildfires.  Dry grass is particularly susceptible to ignition -  carelessly dropped cigarettes, illegal fireworks, mower blades, and hot car mufflers frequently ignite grass fires.  These fast-moving fires damage and destroy homes every year in California and Marin, often in the first few minutes of a wildfire before firefighters arrive.

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Wildfire Preparedness Week, Day 1: Clean Your Roof and Rain Gutters

This is Wildfire Preparedness Week.  Follow our daily updates for an easy, step by step guide to protecting your home!

This week, FIRESafe MARIN will provide a simple, 7 day guide to improving your home and family's wildfire preparedness with simple, easy, inexpensive tips.

Day 1: Clean Your Roof and Rain Gutters!

The single most effective step you can take to protect your home TODAY is to clean all leaves, needles, and debris from your roof and rain gutters!  The most vulnerable part of your home is typically the roof.  Although Class "A" roof construction, required in most Marin jurisdictions for nearly 20 years, is more resistant to fire, even a small handful of leaves or needles can ignite your "fire resistant" roofing.  Fire inspectors find that most homeowners do not properly maintain their roofs, leaving Marin's neighborhoods vulnerable to wildfires.

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