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Report on mitigation efforts for fire risks associated with dry weather 02-04-14.pdf

Report on mitigation efforts for fire risks associated with dry weather 02-04-14.pdf

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Published by L. A. Paterson
Carmel City Council Agenda Item
Carmel City Council Agenda Item

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Published by: L. A. Paterson on Feb 08, 2014
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Submitted by:
Council Report
February 4, 2014
Honorable Mayor and Members of the City Council
Jason Stilwell, City Administrator
Gaudenz Panholzer, Fire Chief
Report on mitigation efforts for f ire risks associated with dry weather
Recommendation(s): Accept report on mitigation efforts for fire risks associated with dry
weather conditions
Executive Summary: While the dry weather pattern that has been in place into the winter months this
year has created significant concerns, The Monterey Fire Department, in
cooperation with Carmel Police Department, the Carmel Forest and Beach staff,
and other local agencies, has taken several steps to protect residents and visitors.
We will continue to monitor conditions and the success of our efforts so that we
can adjust them as necessary.
Analysis/Discussion: With the unseasonable warm and dry weather comes a concern for increased wild
fire risk. This was clearly evidenced with the Pfeifer Ridge fire that destroyed
numerous homes in Big Sur in December. To deal with the increased risk, actions
can be taken on several fronts: prevention, reduction of potential severity, and
response capacity.
The prevention of a fire is always the best way to reduce the risk of such an
emergency. Wild land fires in urban areas are typically started with careless
actions by people and less frequently by intentional actions. Actions taken to
prevent the occurrence of fires are as follows:
• Posting of " No Smoking" and "Dangerous Fire Area" signs at trail entrances to
Mission Trails Park
• Enforcement of beach fire regulations
• Regular presence of Police and Fire vehicles/personnel in high risk areas
Reduction of Potential Fire Severity
Fiscal Impact:
If a fire were to start, a good way to control the severity of the impact is to use
fuel management to limit the growth and spread of the fire. To help with this
effort the following actions were taken:
• Mowing of grassy areas in Mission Trails Park was completed in the spring of
2013; a consideration of using goats to perform this "mowing" was discussed
and will be explored to facilitate vegetation management in the steeper
canyon areas
• An inspection of mowed areas was completed jointly by staff from Fire, Police,
and Forest and Beach on Thursday, January 23, where it was determined the
lack of rain has produced no regrowth
• A vegetation management informational flyer was produced and will be
distributed by fire personnel to residents whose properties border Mission
Trails Park and Pescadero Canyon
• A press release was prepared to remind residents to maintain a defensible
space of 100 feet around their property.
• Staff met with Scenic Road resi dents Kathy and Gary Bang on January 23
regarding their concerns of f ire risk on bank above the beach; some low-
hanging vegetation was removed prior to this time by City staff; staff
determined that no significant risk of fire exists with the remaining vegetation
Response Capacity
In order to adequately respond to any vegetation fires that may start, the
following actions have been taken:
• Monterey Fire personnel are being provided refresher wildland fire training
earlier than normal
• Monterey Fire's wildland fire engine remains available to respond
• CAL Fire has maintained staffing of their wildland fire engines and is in the
process of conducting an emergency re-hire of personnel to bring up staffing
levels both locally and State-wide
In addition to the specific wildland fi re risk mitigation actions, Police Chief
Calhoun is in the process of putting together a dry weather plan as an addition to
Carmel's Emergency Operation Plan (CEOP).
The cost to install the fire danger and no smoki ng signs totaled $32.00
materials and $452 labor; the fire educational flyers were less than
Budgeted (yes/no)
Previous Council
Action/Decision History:
Reviewed by:
City Administrator
Asst . City Admin. D
Public Safety Dir D
City Engineer D
Funding Source( general fund, grant, state)
General Fund- Public Services/Public Safety
City Attorney D Administrative Services D
Dir of CPB D Dir of Public Svcs D
Library Dir D Other D
The maximum size (Base diameter) or live branches that
may be removed without a permit is four {4) inches.
Dead limbs should always be removed.
Prior to trimming trees contact your Forestry Department at (831)620-2073
Why 100 Feet?
Following t hese s1mp le steps can
d ramaticall y increase t he chance of
your home survi v1ng a wil dfire!
A Defensi ble Space of 100 feet around
your home is required by law.' The
goal is to protect your home while
providing a safe area for firefighters.
- Clearing an area of 30 feet immediately
surrounding your home Is critical. This
area requires the greatest reduction in
flammable vegetation.
-The fuel reduction zone in there-
maining 70 feet (or to property line)
will depend on the steepness of your
property and the vegetation.
Spacing between plants improves the chance
of stopping a wildfire before it destroys your
home. You have two options in this area:
0 Create horizontal and vertical spacing
between plants. The amount of space will
depend on how steep the slope is and the
size of the plants.
G Large trees do not have to be cut and
removed as long as all ofthe plants
beneath them are removed. This
eliminates a vertical "tire ladder."
When clearing vegetation, use care when
operating equipment such as lawn mowers.
One small spark may start a fire; a string
trimmer is much safer.
Remove all build- up of needles and
leaves from your roof and gutters. Keep
tree limbs trimmed,at least 10 feet from
any chimneys and remove dead limbs
that hang over your home or garage. The
law also requires a screen over your chim-
ney outlet of not more than Y2 inch mesh.
1. These regulations affect most of the grass, brush, and
timber· covered private lands In the State. Some fire depart-
mentjurlsdictions may have addi tional requirements. Some
activities may require permits for uee removal. Also, some
activities may require special procedures for, I) threatened and
endangered spedes,l) avoiding erosion, and 31 protectio n of
woler quality. Check with local officials If In doubt. Current
regulations allow an fnsurance company to requirl! additional
  The area 10 be treated docs not extend beyond your
For more information contact the
Fire Prevention Office
P. 0. BOX 600, CARMEL, CA 93921 PHONE: (831) 624-6403 FAX:(831) 624-4296
Michael Calhoun, Director of Public Safety
(For release January 29, 2014. For further information, contact Michael Calhoun, Director of Public
Safety for Carmel, at 624-6403, or Gaudenz Panholzer, Monterey Fire Chief, at 646-3908.)
As this winter has been particularly dry, Monterey Fire Department personnel are
reminding local residents to maintain a defensible space of at least 100 feet
around their property, which is required by law.
In the greater Carmel area, there is particularly concern with properties that
border Mission Trails Park and Pescadero Canyon, and department personnel will
be distributing informational flyers in those areas.
The City of Carmel -the-Sea contracts with the City of Monterey for Fire
Prevention services.
The flyers describe possible life-saving tips, in detail, also including what to do to
protect homes and provide a safe area for firefighters in the event of a blaze.
"Since we all live within Carmel's urban forest, it is very important to take steps to
increase the home's likelihood of surviving a fire," said Mike Calhoun, Director of
Public Safety for Carmel by-the-Sea.
The fire danger will be discussed at the Carmel City Council meeting of Tuesday,
February 4, which begins at 4:30p.m. at Carmel City Hall.
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