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East Bay Homeowners Face Deadline To Clear Dead Vegetation Before Fire Season

ALAMO (KPIX 5) -- Bay Area fire departments want to avoid another bad fire season this year. In the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District, residents are required to clear out overgrown vegetation and dead trees by May 31. Firefighters will start doing inspections on June 1.

dead vegetation San Ramon (CBS)
Removing dead vegetation ahead of fire season (CBS)

The fire department covers Alamo, San Ramon and Danville. They sent out letters to 20,000 plus homeowners earlier this year to abate dead vegetation on their properties. The fire agency also put out signs on busy intersections this week to remind people of the fast approaching deadline.

"We want at least 30 feet plus of defensible space around the homes. Don't want bark right next to the home, coming underneath the outside wall. Want to make sure that the gutters are clear from dead vegetation," said Stephen Healy, the interim fire marshal for the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District.

Healy said the fire department can't do it alone. They need the community to work with them to prevent fires. Land owners who don't comply will face fines. The agency will also hire contractors to do the work for them and place a lien on the property.

"That rarely happens. We get over 99 percent compliance in the district," said Healy.

Alamo resident Mike Kresse just hired an abatement service provider to clear out his one-acre front yard this week. He's dealt with a major fire before. He said it's important for all the neighbors to do their part.

"I think they're being reasonable. It's about defensible space. And I think it's about safety for the neighborhood," said Kresse. Many abatement service providers said they're booked up for the next three weeks. They'll be working seven days a week to try to get people in compliance.

"There's no way we're going to get everybody done by that 31st deadline. But we certainly try to get the high risk areas done," said Pete Ferraro with AAA Tractor Service.

Service providers and homeowners said from experience, the fire department is reasonable. They said if you can't get it done this month, the fire marshal will work with you as long as you show an action plan of when it'll be done and who's been hired to do it.

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