Compliance Standards for Vegetation Inspections

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Below is a list of the specific items inspectors will be checking for during vegetation inspections.

Provide street address numbers that are minimum 4 inches in height, legible, contrasting color and visible from roadway in front of property. (CFC 505.1)

Address numbers are very important in helping firefighters and paramedics locate a home in the event of an emergency. Address numbers shall be large enough to see from the street and shall be in a visible area. Prune any vegetation away from the address numbers if necessary.

Maintain 30-ft fuel reduction zone around all buildings and neighboring structures; more may be required due to steepness of terrain. (CFC 4907.2)

The 30-foot fuel reduction zone helps create a defensible space around your home which can slow or even stop the spread of wildfire. Ground fuels such as grass, small shrubs, and dead leaves or branches should be cut or removed. Vegetation growing around the property should be maintained and not allowed to grow feral. Create horizontal separation between individual plants.

Maintain the roof of any structure free of leaves, needles, or other dead vegetative growth. (CFC 304.1.2)

Dead leaves and pine needles can accumulate on roofs and in gutters. It may be necessary to clear the roof off regularly, especially after periods of heavy wind.

Tree crowns extending to within 10 feet of any structure shall be pruned to maintain a minimum horizontal clearance of 10 feet. (CFC 4907.3.1.1)

While the code states that tree crowns should be 10 feet away from any structure, we would like to interpret this as maintain and not remove trees. Please be mindful of pruning trees near homes, it is important to maintain the health, integrity, and intention of the tree with respect to fire safety/prevention. We recommend that owners prune smaller branches, dead branches, and branches making contact or overhanging a structure. We do not recommend the removal of an entire tree.

Trees do not have to be removed completely. Any branches that are contacting any structure, overhanging the roof of any structure, dangling from a tree, or dead need to be pruned back to create as much “cold-air” space as possible between vegetation and structures. Please prune limbs back as much as possible while maintaining the health, integrity, and intention of the tree with respect to fire safety.

Portions of tree crowns that extend within 10 feet of the outlet of a chimney shall be pruned to maintain a minimum horizontal clearance of 10 feet. (CFC 4907.3.1.2)

Prune back tree branches that extend toward chimney or stovepipe outlets. It may be necessary to prune branches even if your chimney is not in use. Spark arrestors shall be installed on chimney outlets.

Trees within the defensible space shall be pruned to remove limbs located less than 6 feet above the ground surface. (CFC 4907.3.1.3)

It is important to create vertical separation between the ground and the lowest growing limbs of trees. Trees shall be limbed up to 6 feet from the ground. For smaller trees, please limb up to a quarter of the height of the tree. The purpose here is to eliminate the spread of ground fire to upper portions, or crown, of trees. Eliminating these “ladder fuels” greatly helps in the prevention and spread of wildfire.

Deadwood and litter shall be regularly removed from trees. (CFC 4907.3.1.4)

Locate and remove dead branches and/or leaves from trees. Certain plant species, such as eucalyptus or juniper, are known to shed combustible material often.

Clearance of Brush or Vegetative Growth from Roadways. The Fire Code Official is authorized to require areas within 10 feet on each side of portions of fire apparatus access roads and driveways to be cleared of non-fire-resistive vegetation growth. (CFC 4907.3.2)

Vegetation growing along the roadway should be pruned back. Ten feet is the recommended distance, though in some cases, less may be appropriate. Limbs that overhang the roadway and are less than 15 feet above the ground should be cut back to the roadway edge. Pruning vegetation along the roadway improves vehicle access, increases sight lines, and creates a fuel break that could help stop the spread of wildfire.

Accumulations of wastepaper, wood, haystacks, weeds, litter or combustible/flammable waste or rubbish not permitted to remain on parcel. (CFC 304.1.1)

Collections of flammable materials, such as boxes, construction materials, lumber, and certain other containers should be removed from the premises. Densities of materials could increase the fuel load in a manner that increases the heat produced or pose hazardous chemical reactions.

Weeds, grass, vines or other growth that is capable of being ignited and endangering property shall be cut down and removed by the owner or occupant of the premises.

(CFC 304.1.2)

Ground fuel, such as grass, needs to cut to height between 4 and 6 inches. It is important to leave some ground cover to prevent the possibility of erosion. Vacant lots must have all ground fuels cut. It may be necessary to cut grass on a parcel more than once per season.

Storage of firewood in excess of daily use shall not be within 20 feet of structure, stored in unenclosed spaces beneath buildings, below decks or under eaves. (CFC 4909.5)

Firewood and combustible material shall not be stored in unenclosed spaces beneath buildings or structures, on or below decks or under eaves, canopies or other projections or overhangs. When required by the Fire Code official, storage of firewood and combustible material stored in the defensible space shall be located a minimum of 20 feet from structures and separated from the crown of trees by a minimum horizontal distance of 15 feet.

Fire protection systems, fire hydrants, shall have 3 feet of clearance in all directions. (CFC 507.5.4 & 507.5.5)

A 3-foot clearance shall be maintained around fire hydrants. Unobstructed access shall remain at all times.

Maintain all hazardous vegetation located within ten feet of any combustible fence. (CFC 4907.3.3.5)

Prune vegetation away from fences. Although ten feet is recommended in the code, we ask you to be mindful in pruning vegetation. Branches making contact with a fence and dead vegetation near a fence shall be removed.

Other relevant Codes

Minimum Requirements. (CFC 4907.3.3.8)

Nothing contained in this section shall be deemed to preclude the Fire Code Official from requiring more than the minimum specific requirements set forth above when the Fire Code Official determines that conditions exist that necessitates greater fire protection measures.

No person shall stop, park, or leave standing any vehicle within 15 feet of fire hydrant. (CVC 22514)

Portable outdoor fireplaces shall be used in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions and shall not be operated within 15 feet (3048 mm) of a structure or combustible material. (CFC 307.4.3)

"Red-flag" and other high fire risk conditions. Open burning, including recreational fires and fires within portable outdoor fireplaces, shall not be permitted on "red-flag" or other days which pose a high fire risk as determined by the Fire Code Official. (CFC 307.4.4)