Assess the Fire Risk of Your Home
Unfortunately, in Cambria there are many houses that are fire-prone because of the materials they are made of or the location of the house. The residents of those houses should plan to evacuate as soon as fire appears to be threatening.
Residents of fire safe houses may be safer in their house than trying to drive elsewhere. If you live in a densely forested area you should be concerned about having enough defensible space around you so that a fast-moving wall of flame would not make it to your house. If not, your house might be fire-prone.
If you live in a flat, un-forested area, you should be prepared for a rain of burning embers from a forest fire coming from miles away. You can make your house fire safe by making sure that nothing adjacent to your home could be ignited and the fire spread to your residence.
Here is a simple test to take in both forested and un-forested areas: Walk around the outside of your house and think about what would happen if a burning highway safety flare was dropped anywhere in your area. Would it catch grass on fire that would spread to a bush, which then would spread to a tree, which would ignite the tree and then spread under the eaves of your house? If it fell into that woodpile your neighbor has stacked against his house next to your house, would the fire spread from that house to yours? Many can change their fire-prone houses to fire safe by eliminating a fire path to their house.
Read "Will Your Home Survive?" A Winner or Loser (Available at Library or online). Deciding if your residence fits that book's definition of a Loser (fire-prone) and changing it into a Winner (fire safe) before a fire, might save your life.
After you have decided if your house is a fire safe or fire-prone, develop your fire plan and have all members of the household agree upon it. Some households may decide they are safer staying at home or sheltering-in-place. Others may decide they should evacuate as soon as they know a fire might come their way. Emergency services will probably not have the time to go door-to-door, telling people to evacuate. You will have to make this decision. It is best to make it before a fire is threatening you and your home.
Fire Hazard Fuel Reduction
Reducing flammable vegetation on your property is the single most important thing you can do to prevent a wildland fire in Cambria. The Fire Department conducts a Fuel Reduction Program annually for homeowners and businesses.
For information, please contact Chief William Hollingsworth, at 805-927-6240 or via email at (redacted).
Following are important tips in reducing vegetation to minimize fire risk to your home or business:
- Remove dead vegetation from the exterior of your home. In a flat area, there should be a minimum 30-foot clearance; in a steep or hilly area, 50 to 300 feet of clearance is necessary.
- Oil/resin filled plants such as Coyote Brush and Scotch or Irish Broom burn as if they're soaked in kerosene. They should be reduced or eliminated. Contact your nursery staff for a list of fire resistive plants.
- All trees over 20 feet in height should be limbed 6 feet up from the ground.
- Ground debris, grass, and other plants should be trimmed to a maximum of 4 inches. These should be disposed of by chipping or hauled to a green waste facility.
- Clear roofs and rain gutters of dead vegetation.
- Place wood piles away from your home or business. Cover them with a heavy cotton tarp.
- Create a minimum 10-foot clearance around the wire from the electrical pole to your home.
- Place a 1/4 inch mesh spark arrestor around chimneys and clear tree limbs from within 10 feet. This will reduce the chance of burning embers from your chimney escaping and igniting a wildfire or a neighbor's home.
- Ensure all fuel containers or propane tanks have a minimum 10-foot fuel break around them.
Roof and Deck Protection
There are a number of ways you can protect your roof and deck from burning during a fire, including:
- If you plan to replace your roof, purchase a non-combustible one.
- Fire-resistant wood roofs do not stay fire resistant longer than 8 years.
- In a wildland fire, your wooden deck may catch fire first.
- Enclose the underside of your deck with fire-resistant materials.
- Place solid sheeting on your deck's surface so burning embers carried by the wind cannot ignite decking material, and especially the leaves and other materials that collect in the gaps.
- Install residential sprinklers under your deck that will activate the head(s) when a fire gets hot enough. These are inexpensive and can be installed by a plumber with a C-16 state license.
- Remove firewood and other combustible debris from under wooden decks.
- Keep combustible deck furniture away from your home.
Standby Generator Safety
Click on the links below to find out how to hook up a standby generator properly and operate it safely.How to Hook up a GeneratorCorrect Use, Care and Operation of a Generator