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Fire Inspections Start in Local Foothills Cities

May 1st, 2009 by Temple City Tribune

Most of the local foothill communities are beginning fire inspections in May if they have not already begun.   These inspections are done in the high risk areas which include the wildland urban interface.  Each city notifies those property owners affected by the clearance requirements.  For information contact the fire prevention office in the community in which you live. 
Most of the communities along the foothills follow the state guidelines for brush clearance, i.e. maintaining a defensible space of 30 feet  and that brush be cleared within 100 feet of the a building.  Monrovia’s requirements are more stringent; it requires a 200 foot clearance.
In Arcadia the inspections will begin on May 4 and the city requires that the brush be cleared in “a timely manner", generally this is two weeks.   The city follows the state guidelines regarding clearance requirements.  These are listed below.  The fire prevention bureau can be reached at (626)) 574-5104
In Monrovia inspections will start on May 15 and required cleared done by July 1.  Those Monrovia properties found not to be in compliance will be facing fines of as much as $1000 for the first offense and up to $5000 for a third offense.  To assist property owners in the annual clearance requirement, the Fire Department is again offering its Brush Chipper Program.  This program provides for a chipper company which will come to a property owners residence and chip the brush which when it is stacked and placed at the curb.  For details on the program, to make request a chipper  service, or for answers to specific questions, contact the Monrovia Fire Department at (626) 256-8109. 
Pasadena has already begun its inspections and will be completed by June 1. Property owners have 30 days to complete clearance. Mark Fasick, Fire Marshall of the city, says that the city follows the state guidelines, but can increase to 200” the clearance requirement if it is determined by the fire inspection that there is a greater fire hazard. 
Fire Inspections will begin on May 1 in Sierra Madre.  Residents will have 30 days from the notification that the property needs additional clearance to complete the work.  This community also follows the state guidelines for clearance.   For further information, contact the Sierra Madre Fire Prevention Bureau at 626- 355-7135.

State guidelines are as follows:

* The first 30 feet around any structure shall be free of native and hazardous vegetation.
* The next 70 feet of ground cover shall be at a height of no greater than 18 inches (except trees).
* Native shrubs within 100 feet of any structure shall be trimmed 2 feet above the ground and no closer than 18 feet to other vegetation or structures.
* Maintain trees within 100 feet of any building or structure and within 10 feet from any roadway free of dead foliage and maintain branches and foliage 3 feet off the ground.
* Remove any portion of a tree which extends within 10 feet of an outlet of a chimney.
* Keep all shrubs and other growing vegetation adjacent to or overhanging any building free of dead limbs, branches or other combustible matter.
* Maintain 5 feet of clearance between roof surfaces and portions of trees overhanging any structure.
* Maintain roof surfaces of all structures free of leaves, needles, twigs and other combustible matter.
* Maintain all weeds and other vegetation within 10 feet of a roadway at a height of no greater than 3 inches.
* All cut vegetation must be legally disposed of.
* Post street address numbers on the front of structures.

The brochure from Sierra Madre includes the following warning which applies well to all those doing brush clearance: “Do not cut vegetation to bare soil! These actions may accelerate soil erosion and cause mudslides Remember, “THIN, YOU WIN; STRIP YOU SLIP Providing this defensible space is YOUR LEGAL responsibility and the key to defending your home during a wildfire. Working together we can battle the wildfire problem, but you must start around your own home.”
There is no real fire season here; fires can occur at any time.  The Griffith Park Fire started on May  8. 2007, but the Shekell Fire began in December of 2006.  The Fire Season lasts 365 days a year in Southern California.  The only exception is leap year when it last 366 days. 

Public Wildfire Forum Scheduled in Monrovia

The Monrovia Fie Department will be hosting a public Community Wildfire Forum in City Hall’s Council Chambers on Monday, May 11, beginning at 6 p.m. The forum will also be available live on the internet.
Experts will be available from state and federal agencies who can answer homeowners’ questions concerning sustainable landscaping, building construction and retro-fitting a home to better prepare for a wildfire.
A live cablecast of the forum will be carried online by Monrovia’s public access television provider, Community Media of the Foothills, at www.kgemtv.com.
For further information on the meeting, call the Monrovia Fire Department at (626) 256-8181.


By Susan Motander

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