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Defensible space inspections help keep homeowners safe in San Marcos

Defensible space inspections help keep homeowners safe in San Marcos

San Marcos, CA –In the last year, the San Marcos Fire Department (SMFD) conducted nearly 830 defensible space inspections of properties located in the city’s highest wildfire risk areas, as determined by the Community Wildfire Protection Plan.

Photo caption: San Marcos Fire Inspector Randy Hill conducts a defensible space audit on a home in a high fire risk area.  

Since January, the San Marcos Fire Department has sent notices to 250 properties asking owners to remove dead and overgrown vegetation and maintain the required 150 feet around a home to help reduce or slow the spread of wildfire.

“San Marcos is no stranger to wildfire and it is up to all of us to help keep ourselves, our property and the community safe,” said Fire Chief Brett VanWey.

During the defensible space audits, recommendations on how to improve or maintain defensible space are provided to the homeowner using a checklist and photos based on an inspection of the property.  If a homeowner is not home or cannot participate in the inspection while fire department personnel are on site, a copy of the report will be mailed to the owner.

Free of charge, homeowners do not need to be present as inspectors are able to assess defensible space requirements from the street or an adjacent property. Inspections are conducted only by uniformed fire department personnel to help educate homeowners on opportunities to minimize risk of wildfire.

“Creating defensible space is critical for a home’s chance of surviving a wildfire and reduces risk to our firefighters responding,” continued VanWey.


Photo Caption: Defensible space saved this home during the May 2014 Cocos Fire.

In addition to local inspections, CALFIRE will coordinate inspections with SMFD for residents living in the State Responsibility Area. CALFIRE’s main goal will be to educate homeowners and evaluate properties to ensure owners maintain the required defensible space – 100 feet for homes built prior to 2005 and 150 feet for homes built after 2005.

Homeowners can use the following tips to help homes survive a wildfire:

  • Maintain 150-feet of defensible space around all structures (100 feet for homes built prior to 2005).
  • Clear all needles and leaves from roofs, eaves and rain gutters.
  • Trim tree branches 6 feet from the ground.
  • Use trimming, mowing and power equipment before 10 a.m.
  • Landscape with fire resistant and drought tolerant plants that require little water.
  • Remove branches away from roofs and 10 feet from the chimney.
  • Keep wood piles and flammable materials at least 30 feet from the home.
  • Use fire ignition resistant building material.

For more emergency preparedness information, visit www.san-marcos.net/beprepared or call the San Marcos Fire Department at (760) 744-1050, ext. 3410.

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