Download Oakland Fire Department's Inspection Notice for more tips and requirements.
For FREE chipping of small tree limbs & brush call City of Oakland's Vegetation Management 510-238-7388 or visit www.oaklandnet.com/wildfireprevention.
Inspections began in mid May and are ongoing. Here's your incentive to make sure you get the job done:
- Per section 109.3 CFC violation penalties, persons who fail to comply with any requirements of the Fire Code shall be guilty of an infraction punishable of a fine not to exceed $1000
- The City master fee schedule, approved by City Council, lists the fine for a failed 1st vegetation management inspection at $303, failed 2nd inspection is an additional $303 for a total of $606 for failing two inspections back-to-back after a 30 day 1st inspection Notice of Violation.
- Failing a 3rd inspection is a misdemeanor with an administrative hearing notice mailed via certified mail to the violator. Failure to appear results in an additional fee of up to $1531.00 per the master fee schedule and the property being placed out for private contractor bid to clear. The cost of the clearing of the property by a private City contractor will then be billed to the lawful property owner and if unpaid, all fines and fees will be sent to collections for restitution.
PPNA Board Recommends Process Changes
2017 created some bumpy roads in the inspection process. PPNA's board approved the following recommendations, which it will discuss with fire prevention decision makers:
PPNA Board Position Regarding Vegetation Management in Piedmont Pines
With so many fires currently raging out of control in many of our nearby counties, we are prompted to revisit some issues of concern here in Oakland that have affected many of our 1,400 residents in Piedmont Pines. Specifically, we'd like to raise our concerns about the Oakland Fire Department's annual residential inspections and offer suggestions to improve the process to achieve compliance with vegetation management goals and policies.
In 2017, the OFD Fire Suppression Bureau's Vegetation Management Unit notified residents that inspections would commence on May 16. Many residents retained or attempted to retain brush clearing services in order to be ready for inspections. This had some negative consequences:
- The date of May 16 was sufficiently close to the end of the rainy/growth season that some residents who cleared properties a few weeks in advance of May 16 needed to re-clear their properties
- The demand for brush clearing services to be performed by or shortly after May 16 far exceeded the available supply of brush clearing services, resulting in predatory pricing and forcing delays in completing the work until mid-June or later.
We suggest some solutions that hopefully will be included in next year's Vegetation Management Plan:
- PPNA recognizes that it is impossible for all hills properties to be cleared in the short period of time between the end of the rainy season and mid-May when inspections begin.
- Recognizing the fire department's current practice of conducting the initial inspections over several weeks between mid-May and the end of June, coupled with the limited supply of brush clearing services, PPNA recommends that OFD stagger its inspection schedule for different sections of the Oakland hills from mid-May through June. For example: 2nd week of May--Area 1; 3rd week of May--Area 2, etc.
- We also expect the City to require public lands, open spaces and parks, and unimproved lots owned by the City be held to the same standards and timeframes as private properties.
- We had many reports of inconsistent application of the “rules,” including differing interpretations of the same rule by different inspectors---especially related to branch clearance requirements near and above houses.
We hope that the inspection process goes more smoothly next year and that serious consideration is given to phasing the inspections over several weeks.
One Less Spark, One Less Wildfire
"One Less Spark, One Less Wildfire" is a video presentation by Ken Benson of the Oakland Firesafe Council, providing important tips, wildfire history and information on protecting your home and surrounding area from fire.
Protect your investment, protect our neighborhood
We share an important year-round role in preventing fires in Piedmont Pines. Drought conditions now have us in fire season year-round. Here are the top priorities to review:
- Are your tree limbs clear within 10 feet of your roof?
- Are your rain gutters clear of dead leaves and debris?
- Do you have vines climbing that could act as a fire ladder?
- Is stored firewood at least 20 feet from structures?
- Is your house number visible from the street and at least 4" tall?
The Oakland Firesafe Council is a grassroots community-based organization dedicated to mobilizing the people of Oakland to reduce the risks of wildfire danger to people and property through outreach, programs and projects. The Council has been working hard to get the word out on this important topic, and Council member Ken Benson has created the presentation One Less Spark, One Less Wildfire with valuable tips and information on protecting your home and surrounding area from wildfire. You can watch this 15 minute presentation on YouTube
FEMA grants to prevent wildfires
There has been a lot of discussion in the media, on Nextdoor, at public forums and in City Hall about the FEMA grants to thin trees to protect against wildfires. Some of the conversation has been incendiary; some statements have been misleading, some have been cautionary. Here are some resources:
- The City's fact sheet on its FEMA grant
- East Bay Regional Parks's FAQ on its grant, and press release.
- Free chipping service
- Inspections and compliance standards
- Vegetation Inspection FAQ
- Year round protection and prevention calendar
- Read the City's press release and fact sheet on reducing wildfire risk on city property [5/1/17]