CalFire announces the beginning of local residential inspections. Here is the information CalFire submitted to Lassen News.
Does the team go door to door to ask if a homeowner would like an inspection?
CalFire Defensible Space Inspectors will come to the front door and explain they are there to conduct a defensible space inspection for compliance with California Public Resource Code section 4291 which is limited to the exterior of the home and structures on the property. If nobody is home the inspectors may conduct an inspection from the sidewalk/path used to walk to the front door. They will not walk around a structure without checking with the resident first. If there is a gate, they will remain outside of the gate and conduct the inspection from that area if they can reasonably do so. Otherwise no inspection will be completed.
Are inspections required in certain areas or only done if a homeowner asks for one?
The PRC section 4291 requires defensible space be maintained around structures and buildings at all times (Summary, please see full text of the law for complete details). PRC 4119 states “CalFire, or its duly authorized agent, shall enforce the state forest and fire laws. The department may inspect all properties, except the interior of dwellings, subject to the state forest and fire laws, for the purpose of ascertaining compliance with such laws.” PRC 4291 is a state fire law. There is no intention to force an inspection upon anyone. CalFire inspectors are there to help residents better prepare and protect their property from being impacted by wildfire. This also helps the limited number of suppression resources better protect their property should a fire be burning toward it. While not complying with the law is an infraction, the goal is to obtain voluntary compliance.
Inspections are only done in areas defined as “State Responsibility Areas” aka SRA, which is where CalFire has statutory responsibility.
CalFire inspectors will be working on completing inspections for structures throughout Lassen, Modoc and Plumas counties that did not receive inspections last year within the SRA as a first priority and then start reinspecting once that is completed. The goal is that every property is inspected at least once every three years within the SRA of Lassen, Modoc and Plumas counties. The law does not apply to property that does not have structures present.
Are findings confidential, logged, or reported anywhere?
Inspection results are provided to the occupant of the property, either in person, left at the front door or left in a bag if nobody is home. Inspection results are maintained in a state database. If a property does not pass an inspection an additional inspection may be made.
What are key things looked for?
All criteria is inspected for, however, removing all dead material (weeds, shrubs, trees, needles), etc. from the 100-foot area (or to the property line if closer) surrounding the residence is key. Keep pine needles and debris off roofs. Clear around propane and heating fuel tanks.
Visit fire.ca.gov/dspace to see the requirements associated with defensible space.