Fire Department urges residents to prepare for fire season by cleaning up yards

From a City of Piedmont press release on June 28:

As grazing goats arrive in Moraga Canyon to clear dead grasses on the hillside, it’s time to start preparing your own yard for fire season by trimming trees and shrubs, clearing flammable materials, and removing dead vegetation around your property.

The East Bay hills have seen significant wildfires multiple times in the last 150 years. Those events, and recent wildfires across California, have taught us that our communities are best protected when everyone takes steps to manage the vegetation around their homes, which helps to reduce the spread and severity of fires when they start.

Prepare your yard: prune plants and clear debris
The gold standard for wildfire protection is to remove all vegetation within 5 feet of your home. However, even if this is not feasible on your property in the short term, you can do your part and increase your home’s chance of surviving a wildfire by taking a few simple protective measures in your yard.

Make time over the next few weeks prepare your property:
• Create space between plants and your home: Remove branches that hang over your roof or are within 10 feet of your chimney. Prune plants away from buildings. This buffer area will help protect your house and give firefighters an area to work in to defend your home during a fire. Separate tree canopies by at least 10 feet.
• Create space between plants: Trim trees so the lowest branches are at least 6 feet from the ground, or three times the height of any shrubs beneath the tree. This helps prevent fire from moving from the ground to the treetops, where it can spread more quickly.
• Clear debris and flammable materials: Remove all dead plants, grass, and weeds around your yard. Clear leaves and pine needles from roofs, gutters, and the ground.Remove flammable materials, such as paint or propane containers from under decks and away from buildings.

• Trim plants of any dead or dying material: It’s important to keep all plants in your yard watered and well-maintained. Remove any dead or dying vegetation. If you have eucalyptus trees in your yard, remove any shedding bark or leaves.

Download a checklist for preparing your yard HERE.

If you need help identifying what needs to be done on your property, call the Fire Department at (510) 420-3030 to request an inspection. Our personnel are trained in best practices around vegetation management and will happily come help you make informed decisions about fire safe landscaping.

City staff work year-round to protect community from wildfires
Using grazing goats to clear dry grasses is only one part of the vegetation management work Piedmont Public Works engages in year-round to mitigate wildfire risk. The goats follow a large vegetation clearing project above the Corporation Yard, which cleared out tees and removed low lying vegetation on the steep hillside. Throughout the year, maintenance staff monitor and remove dead and dying vegetation in parks and public spaces. Annual street tree trimming prunes branches away from residents’ roofs.

Goats on the Corp Yard hillside in June 2024

Meanwhile, the Fire Department engages in staff training and conducts public outreach around disaster preparedness year-round. In 2022, the Department held Piedmont’s first ever practical wildfire evacuation exercise, giving staff across all departments and the public a hands-on opportunity to rehearse their role in wildfire response.

Piedmont firefighters during a recent wildfire response training

We recently updated our emergency operations procedures based on lessons learned from that experience – and are planning another evacuation exercise soon.

We will soon begin the process of updating our local hazard mitigation plan, which identifies long-term strategies to reduce the damage to our community from natural disasters like wildfires, earthquakes, and floods.

Find more information and links to additional resources on preparing your property for fire season HERE.

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