Fire Clear Evacuation Maps

FIRESafe MARIN and many Marin fire agencies, cities and towns, and other partners are working together to develop improved wildfire evacuation maps and messaging for residents in Marin's WUI communities.  These "Fire Clear" maps, funded by fire agencies, cities and towns, and a grant from CAL FIRE, will be published as they are completed over the course of 2020.  Some communities may opt to mail printed copies of these maps to residents with funding support from Marin Wildfire Prevention Authority.


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San Anselmo

Coming late 2020


Coming late 2020


Overview Map  |  Greenbrae Zone

Central Marin

Overview Map  |  East Corte Madera  |  Larkspur  |  Greenbrae

West Marin

San Geronimo Valley

Overview Map  |  Lagunitas  |  Forest Knolls  |  San Geronimo  |  Woodacre

Coming Soon!

  • Point Reyes
  • Nicasio
  • Inverness
  • Bolinas
  • Stinson Beach
  • Muir Beach
  • Tomales

San Rafael

Coming soon!

Citywide Overview

Zone Maps

Lucas Valley  |  Marinwood  |  Terra Linda  |  Mont Marin/San Rafael Park  |  North San Rafael Comercial Center  |  Smith Ranch  |  Rafael Meadows/Los Ranchitos  

Southern Marin

Coming Winter 2020

About Fire Clear Evacuation Maps

Claudine Jaenichen is a Professor at Chapman University and specializes in information design and visual communication that advocates for public understanding. FireClear maps were developed as part of her applied research and creative scholarship. Her work considers the relationship between visual communication and the diversity of how people remember and process emergency information under levels of stress. Claudine developed FireClear as the first mapping visual standard to ensure a cohesive look that is specific to fire risk literacy. FireClear is a visual communication tool that supports the public in learning and retaining information longer with more accurately.

The purpose of FireClear maps are:

  • To differentiate the function between data-driven GIS maps that are used for internal decision-making and public-facing maps that are used for the public to plan, identify alternative evacuation routes, and discover routes that are not part of their everyday routine.
  • To encourage cognitive recall of fire risk in the area for residents, tourists, students, commuters, and employees.
  • To support and educate the public of fire risk and improve the transparency between the public and emergency management.
  • To create and distribute fire risk literacy information that is coherent, cohesive, and memorable.

Simple maps improve recall and understanding

Claudine and Dr. Steven Schandler, Director of the Cognitive Psychophysiology Laboratories at Chapman University, conducted a 3.5-year cognitive recall study testing which format of evacuation information was effective for a diverse public that had minimal to no emergency experience. The study did not include the diversity of disabilities including hearing impaired, cognitive impaired, or blindness. 

With over 300 participants, the study tested three kinds of information formats: audio, written, and Claudine’s visual map. Each format contained the exact same information. The study tested for accuracy of the information and how much was remembered. Participants were given 2-minutes to listen, read, or look at the information and the visual map took a little longer to process immediately. Participants were then called either 24-hr or 2 days later and asked what they could remember. The visual maps were the most effective and accurate in how participants remembered the information. It did matter what kind of visual material was tested to achieve this result. Not all maps are the same. A public-facing GIS map was also included in the study and it achieved a 100% fail rate of being understood or retained by members of the public.  

What’s in a map?

Color choices, fonts, lines, symbols, etc. all come together and create a visual impression. Most traditional maps are heavy with detail and specific coding that take a level of skillset to read and understand. Most people do not use maps in their everyday life to build or sustain that skillset. Initially, it takes more time to read the layers of maps and their details. The way people navigate today doesn’t require the map-reading skills needed to effectively understand scientific, data-heavy, or dense maps. FireClear translates maps used my emergency management and filters information to make information less dense, simplified, and more relevant to a non-trained person ranging in demographics and emergency experience. 

FireClear is based on a more diagrammatic approached that is similar to public transportation maps. For example, the London Underground Tube map is the most celebrated and effective public-facing map for an international audience. This map also omits levels of detail and doesn’t reflect the accuracy of the geography, yet still functional and effective. The Tube map has been used as a model for public-facing transportation information worldwide. FireClear applies color, line weight, use of symbols, and font with specific rules, similar to grammar. This ensures that information is relevant and intentionally focused on the use and application of fire risk information for public use.

Working towards inclusion and assistive technology

The effectiveness of FireClear currently relies on sight and cognitive abilities. FireClear has been tested to ensure legibility for those with color blindness and a QR Code has been included to download all maps as digital copies providing the ability to enlarge the map for those with low vision. It is my hope that FireClear can address more diversity in disabilities, making it equitable and accessible with assistive technology in the future. 

FIRESafe MARIN   |   P.O. Box 2831  |   San Anselmo, CA 94979   |   info@firesafemarin.org  |  Contact Us

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