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 around 25,000 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.
For a link to see a map of the Oakland and East Bay Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone: https://gis.data.ca.gov/datase...
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 CA Fire Code does not require property owners to remove live trees or dead ones. (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 late Spring and continue through the year 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.
Current Inspection Program:
Since 2020, our inspection 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. If a parcel owner can demonstrate that the deficiency has been remedied, this will eliminate the need for an in-person re-inspection and no fee will need to be assessed. If the owner does not provide proof of abatement, a bureau inspector will need to [physically come to complete the re-inspection and the owner will be charged (per the master fee schedule) as required in the Master Fee Schedule.
Owners can submit verification of corrective action by email, mail, or physical delivery to the Fire Prevention Bureau located at 250 Frank Ogawa Plaza, 3rd floor. (More information on these options will be included with all communications of your annual inspection).
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 structure is checked on all sides. Vacant lots are also inspected for ground and ladder fuels. Every parcel is scheduled for an “Annual Inspection”. Second inspections are done after 45 days of the annual. A third inspection, if necessary, is done after 14 days from the second inspection. Complaints received may generate an additional inspection for compliance.