Opinion: It’s time to reduce Del Mar’s fire hazard

By Don Mosier
Del Mar mayor

Del Mar Mayor Don Mosier

As summer approaches, the time has arrived to begin preparing for the wildfire season. The City Council has approved a citywide “weed (brush) abatement program” that will be supervised by our Fire Marshal with inspections to be performed by a seasonal weed abatement inspector employed by the Fire Department. The City Council rejected the proposal to use a contract organization for inspection that also performed weed/brush removal because of the inherent conflict of interest. Let me briefly summarize how this program will operate. More information will be made available at an educational workshop on this subject to be held on Tuesday, April 19, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in the City Hall Annex.

The fire hazard inspector will view potential fire hazards either from the street, from the subject property if invited by the owner, or from a neighboring property if invited to do so by the neighbor. No inspector is allowed to go on private property at any time unless invited.
If a resident wants to schedule an inspection and invite the inspector onto their property, they may do so. There will be a weed abatement phone line at the fire station that residents can call to schedule inspection appointments. This number will be posted on the city website (as soon as the phone line is operational), and included in any notice.

A courtesy notice may be issued to inform homeowners that they may have overgrown, dead or dying vegetation that should be removed. If residents receive a courtesy notice, they should schedule an inspection appointment to discuss what action needs to be taken to reduce the fire hazard within 30 days. This is the time for discussion and developing a voluntary plan of compliance, and is usually effective in resolving any issues.

If after 30 days no appointments or contact is made, the inspector will re-inspect the same property. If a property owner takes no action to schedule an inspection or reduce the fire hazard, they will receive a 15-day certified mail notice, asking them again to remove the hazard or schedule an inspection. This begins the formal process of forced abatement, but the homeowner still has time to schedule an inspection at their property, request a time extension if the circumstances warrant, understand the requirements for reducing the fire hazard, and take action to remove the hazard. Forced abatement following a five-day property posting is a last resort. The Fire Department and the city do not want to abate property and prefer voluntary compliance, and past experience shows that forced abatement is a rare outcome of these programs.

Fire safety is one of the highest priorities for this community, and we hope that this program will succeed with a 100 percent voluntary compliance and 0 percent forced abatement proceedings.

Related posts:

  1. Opinion: Reducing the risk of fire in our neighborhoods
  2. Positive steps in fire protection
  3. Project would increase fire safety, efficiency
  4. Stay safe during fall’s fire season
  5. Deputy fire chief speaks on wildfire preparedness

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Posted by admin on Apr 11, 2011. Filed under Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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