(BCN) — Napa County Fire Chief Jason Martin on Tuesday updated the county’s Board of Supervisors on the department’s fire prevention measures and state resources for the current fire season. Firstly, the Chipper program provides chipping services to residents in accordance with county rules for defensible space that call for the removal of dead or dying woody surfaces and aerial fuels within 100 feet of structures.
The department has completed 359 public requests with 64 pending, in total chipping around 12 acres. The fire department has also completed 1,379 inspections since April 1 with six abatement warrants executed and four additional warrants in review. Department officials believe that those properties need to be abated and will work with the landowners while ensuring that the community is safe.
“We try to do more on the educational versus the enforcement side,” Martin said. In pre-fire season, the department sends out reminders and criteria in the mail for inspections.
There are continuing mitigation projects such as working alongside state Highway 121 and Pritchard Hill. In Rancho La Jota, they are using handheld tools to reduce the brush as well as a masticator tool that grinds up the brush. They will also be lessening the density of the trees and the brush around the trees, so they will not burn as easily.
In the Circle Oaks area, the department is reducing the vegetation around the structures in the community. In the Berryessa area, they are also trimming grass and trees in between the residential and wildlife areas to slow possible fires as they progress toward the residential zone and give the department an advantage to suppress the fire.
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Martin spoke about the importance of public education and community involvement in preventing fires.
“One of the big contributing factors to our successes is our community membership and their involvement and their understanding of we’re all part of the fire service and mitigation,” he told the supervisors.
Martin said there are other resources throughout the region and the state for larger fires, such as new night-flying helicopters that were used for the first time in Northern California during the Electra Fire in El Dorado County on July 7. Those helicopters will become the norm when it comes to attacking wildfires, according to Martin.
“We’re in a drought year and there is definitely the possibility of large historic fires this year,” he said.
Martin reported there has been increased fire activity, but their initial attack capabilities have increased. A resident from Dry Creek Road applauded the fire department’s help with the defensible space and suggested that there be a tax credit or property tax breaks for those who are taking the measures to help with fire prevention on their property since it can be expensive.
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