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S.J. County fire chiefs urge citizens to prepare for fire season
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With rain falling through the month of May; this year’s fire season is primed to be the worst in recent years. Weeds have grown to record heights and are beginning to dry rapidly. The Fire Chiefs of San Joaquin County are urging all citizens to take immediate action on any grasses or weeds that may pose a fire danger.

San Joaquin County Ordinance 4286 compels “…the owner, lessee, or occupant(s) of buildings, grounds, or lots in the unincorporated portions of San Joaquin County to remove Weeds and Rubbish that constitute a public nuisance and fire hazard from such property and adjacent public right of ways, or pay the County the cost of removing the nuisance”.

A fire hazard is defined as “a thing or act which increases or could cause an increase of the hazard or menace of fire to a greater degree than that customarily recognized as normal by persons in the public service regularly engaged in preventing, suppressing, or extinguishing fire or any act which could obstruct, delay, hinder, or interfere with the operations of the fire department or the egress of occupants in the event of fire”.

The Fire Chief’s Association urges that all properties have a defensible space. This is an area immediately adjacent to combustible properties, which has been cleared of combustibles, dry grasses and weeds, to create and maintain a minimum firebreak. A minimum firebreak is generally as follows:

•Properties less than 2 acres: The entire property to be abated.

•Properties more than 2 acres: 30-foot. firebreak around all structures and property lines. It is the option of the fire district to abate the whole property when surrounding exposure warrants it. If you are in question, please contact your fire district.

•Pasture or farm land: 10-foot firebreak around property lines and 30 for around all structures and combustible exposures, (haystacks, barns, etc.)

•Properties with livestock: Grasses and weeds may be abated by the use of livestock. However, all other firebreaks and defendable space guidelines still apply.  A 10-foot. firebreak around property lines is required, and it is still the option of the fire district to abate weeds on properties where the amount of animals on the property could not maintain a reasonably safe fire condition.

•Property owners are required to provide large firebreaks on properties that have limited access, insufficient water supply and contain a high fire load.

•Firebreaks shall be maintained throughout the Fire Season.

The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors has also adopted an ordinance requiring the property owner to maintain the public right-of-way adjacent to their property free of fire hazards.