Fire Season Preparedness
Are you ready for fire season?
Mow before 10 a.m., but never when it’s windy or excessively dry. Lawn mowers are designed to mow lawns, not weeds or dry grass. Metal blades striking rocks can create sparks and start fires. Use caution.
In wildland areas, spark arresters are required on all portable gasoline-powered equipment. This includes tractors, harvesters, chainsaws, weed-eaters and mowers.
- Keep the exhaust system, spark arresters and mower in proper working order and free of carbon buildup.
- Use the recommended grade of fuel and don’t top it off.
In wildland areas, grinding and welding operations require a permit and 10 feet of clearance. Keep a shovel and a fire extinguisher ready to use.
- Don’t drive your vehicle onto dry grass or brush. Hot exhaust pipes and mufflers can start fires that you won’t even see – until it’s too late!
- Keep a cell phone nearby and call 911 immediately in case of fire.
To protect water quality, do not clear vegetation near waterways to bare soil. Vegetation removal can cause soil erosion especially on steep slopes. Always keep soil disturbance to a minimum.
Practice safe towing. Dragging chains throws sparks. Use appropriate safety pins and hitch ball to secure chains.
No Dragging Parts
Make sure your vehicle is properly maintained, with nothing dragging on the ground.
Check Tire Pressure
Maintain proper tire pressure. Driving on exposed wheel rims will throw sparks.
Carry a fire extinguisher in your vehicle and learn how to use it.
Don’t drive your vehicle onto dry grass or brush. hot exhaust pipes and mufflers can start fires that you won’t even see—until it’s too late!
Properly Maintain Brakes
Brakes worn too thin may cause metal to metal contact, which can cause a spark.
Camping Fire Safety—How to Build an Open Campfire
Select a level, open location away from heavy fuels such as logs, brush or decaying leaves and needles. Clear an area at least 10 feet in diameter (local regulations may vary). Scrape away grass, leaves or needles down to the mineral soil. Scoop a depression in the center of the cleared area in which to build the fire and put a ring of rocks around it. Cut wood in short lengths, pile within cleared area and light the fire. The fire should be built no larger than necessary. Your fire must never be left unattended and the fire must be extinguished completely before leaving.
While the Fire is Burning/Open Fire Safety
Always keep a shovel and bucket of water nearby at all times. While the fire is burning, be sure there is a responsible person in attendance of the fire at all times. Never leave children around a fire unattended.
How to Completely Extinguish an Open Campfire
Use the “drown, stir and feel” method: drown the fire with water, then stir around the fire area with your shovel to wet any remaining embers and ash. Be sure to turn wood and coals over and wet all sides. Move some dirt onto the fire site and mix thoroughly to fully smother it. And finally, feel the area with the back of your hand to ensure nothing is still smoldering.
Burn Season is December 1-April 30th each year unless otherwise noted.
Before You Get Started
First, obtain a Burn Permit from Monterey Air Resources District that is required before burning. After obtaining any necessary permits, ensure that conditions allow burning for that day.
How to Safely Burn Landscape Debris
- Landscape debris piles must be in small 4 feet by 4 feet piles.
- Maximum pile size is 4 feet in diameter.
- Clear all flammable material and vegetation within 10 feet of the outer edge of pile.
- Keep a water supply and shovel close to the burning site.
- A responsible adult is required by law to be in attendance until the fire is out.
- No burning shall be undertaken unless weather conditions (particularly wind) are such that burning can be considered safe.
It is important for residents to stay mindful of current weather conditions when burning. If it’s windy and the surrounding vegetation is very dry, it may be best to wait and burn landscape debris another day.
What can be burned?
Dry, natural vegetation, grown on the property can still be burned outdoors in open piles, unless prohibited by local ordinances. No household trash or garbage can be burned outdoors at residences.
Defensible space, coupled with home hardening, is essential to improve your home’s chance of surviving a wildfire. Defensible space is the buffer you create between a building on your property and the grass, trees, shrubs, or any wildland area that surround it. This space is needed to slow or stop the spread of wildfire and it helps protect your home from catching fire—either from embers, direct flame contact or radiant heat. Proper defensible space also provides firefighters a safe area to work in, to defend your home.
Zones 1 and 2 currently make up the 100 feet of defensible space required by law. Assembly Bill 3074, passed into law in 2020, requires a third zone for defensible space. This law requires the Board of Forestry and Fire Protection to develop the regulation for a new ember-resistant zone (Zone 0) within 0 to 5 feet of the home by January 1, 2023. The intensity of wildfire fuel management varies within the 100-foot perimeter of the home, with more intense fuels’ reduction occurring closer to your home. Start at the home and work your way out to 100 feet or to your property line, whichever is closer.
For more information please visit: www.fire.ca.gov/dspace
- Create an evacuation plan including meeting location, escape routes, and a family communication plan that designates an out of area relative as a point of communication in case family members get separated
- Be prepared:
- Have fire extinguishers on hand and train your family how to use them.
- Ensure your family knows where the gas, electric, and water shut offs are located
- Assemble an emergency supply kit
- Maintain a list of emergency contact numbers
- Have a portable radio or scanner so you can stay updated in the case of a fire
Stay in the know about local fires by joining the following:
- Sign up for CAL Fire incident reports: https://incidents.readyforwildfire.org/
- Sign up for local Nixle alerts: https://local.nixle.com/scotts-valley-police-department
- Review your Evacuation Plan Checklist.
- Ensure your Emergency Supply Kit is in your vehicle.
- Cover-up to protect against heat and flying embers. Wear long pants, long sleeve shirt, heavy shoes/boots, cap, dry bandanna for face cover, goggles or glasses. 100% cotton is preferable.
- Locate your pets and take them with you.