In alignment with the shelter-in-place guidance issued by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the Alameda County Public Health Department (ACPH), the Oakland Fire Prevention Bureau customer front counter will be temporarily closed. However, the Oakland Fire Prevention Bureau will be providing fire permits and inspections services deemed to be essential to the public safety of the community during this time. Please submit your request for an essential public safety inspection service via e-mail: FPBreceptionist@oaklandca.gov
We apologize for any inconvenience that this may cause and eagerly look forward to reengaging with our day to day operations as soon as the current COVID-19 situation stabilizes.
The Vegetation Management Unit (VMU) serves to inspect properties in the Oakland Hills, much of which is designated as a Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone (VHFHSZ). The VMU works under the Oakland Fire Department’s Fire Prevention Bureau. The VMU is responsible for the inspections of over 20,000 homes and vacant parcels in the VHFHSZ. The purpose of these inspections is to identify and mitigate hazards that could contribute to the spread, growth, and intensity of wildfire. Inspections are done annually, and property owners are required to actively maintain their parcels in a fire-safe condition year-round.
Vegetation Management Unit
Fire Prevention Bureau
Oakland Fire Department
What we do
The VMU inspects properties and homes in the VHFHSZ in the Oakland Hills for violations of chapters 3 and 49 of the California Fire Code (CFC) and chapter 15 of the Oakland Municipal Code (OMC).
What we do not do
The Vegetation Management Unit does not inspect outside of the VHFHSZ. The code does not require property owners to remove live trees or dead ones. The code requires trees be limbed up six feet from the ground or a 1/4 height of the tree. (See Compliance Standards for more information)
Where we operate
The Vegetation Management Unit operates only in VHFHSZ in the Oakland Hills. The VHFHSZ is designated by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. The area is characterized by hot and dry summer and fall seasons, high winds, dense and flammable vegetation, steep and varied terrain, hill slope development, and limited accessibility for emergency responders.
When we inspect
Inspections begin in early June and will continue through the summer months until all parcels have been checked. Properties that are found to be non-compliant are re-inspected after 45 days from the first inspection. If the property is still non-compliant on re-inspection, a third inspection will occur after 14 days from the second inspection.
NEW PILOT PROGRAM for 2020:
Previously, if a parcel was found to be out of compliance during the initial no-cost (1st) inspection, and the issue was remedied by the re-inspection (2nd inspection) 30 days later, the resident would incur no fee. However, in 2020, the City determined that each time an inspector returns to a parcel, the owner is required to pay for that service, whether it is the second, third or fourth time.
The pilot program extends an opportunity for parcel owners to mitigate within a 45-day period, and “self-report” by providing proof that the parcel is now in compliance by presenting PHOTOGRAPHIC EVIDENCE along with an invoice/itemized receipt from a contracted provider who performed the mitigation work on the property. If a parcel owner can demonstrate that the deficiency has been remedied, this will eliminate the need for an in-person re-inspection and therefore no fee will need to be levied. If the owner does not comply by following the self-reporting mechanism, a bureau inspector will need to personally come to complete the re-inspection and the owner will be charged $409 as required in the Master Fee Schedule. We are hopeful that by extending the compliance window to 45 days, it will lessen to need to conduct these re-inspections and will get community buy-in neighbor by neighbor throughout the year as our fire seasons continue to extend.
Owners can submit verification of corrective action by email, “snail” mail, or in-person. (Important details on these options will be included with the notice that your annual inspection, which is required by the Fire Code, has been completed).
Why we inspect
The Vegetation Management Unit does inspections to identify potential hazards in an area described as the Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI). The goal is to reduce the amount of fuel (combustible, flammable vegetation) that could contribute to the spread, growth, and intensity of wildfires.
How we conduct inspections
Inspections are conducted on an annual basis. Each home is checked in the Front, Rear, and each Side of the structure. Vacant lots are inspected for ground and ladder fuels. Every parcel is scheduled for an “Annual Inspection”. Second inspections are done after 30 days of the annual. Third inspections, if necessary, are done after 14 days from the second inspection. Complaints received will generate an additional inspection for compliance.