Fire Fuel Reduction & Weed Control

General information

Image of Defensible Space Zones

Fire Fuel Reduction

Open spaces are valued for their nature and beauty; if we choose to live within these areas we must do our part to protect our homes and our community. Living within the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) provides us with a sense of nature, yet there are dangers that must be mitigated and each of us should do our part. In the over 4,000 acres of undeveloped land within the city of Rocklin, fire fuel reduction activities are a must.

Wildland Urban Interface (WUI):

The wildland/urban interface is any location where a fire can spread from vegetation (wildland fuels) to buildings (urban fuels), resulting in multiple house fires that overwhelm fire protection efforts. We may not be able to stop wildfires but we can mitigate that risk by planning and proper fuel management. Creating a defensible space around our homes may help to reduce risk to our lives, properties, community, firefighters; and it is the law.

Image of Defensible Space

As a resident and/ or owner of property near or adjacent to wildland areas, you are required by California’s Public Resources Code (PRC) Section 4291, to maintain a defensible space around your house and other structures. Included are additional requirements under the California Fire Code (CFC), and California Building Code (CBC).  Completing these items increases the chances that your home will survive a wildfire, and will reduce the danger to firefighters, neighbors, and surrounding natural resources. The attached Defensible Space Checklist will help you determine what you need to do to comply with the law and reduce your vulnerability to the threat of wildfire.

What is “Defensible Space?”

“Defensible space” is a perimeter created around a structure where vegetation is treated, cleared or reduced to slow the spread of wildfire towards a structure, reduce the chance of a structure fire burning to the surrounding area, and provides a safe perimeter for firefighters to protect a structure.

Description of Defensible Space Zones

A homeowner’s clearing responsibility is limited to 100 feet away from his or her building or structure or to the property line, whichever is less, and limited to their land. While individual property owners are not required to clear beyond 100 feet, groups of property owners are encouraged to extend clearances beyond the 100 foot requirement in order to create community-wide defensible spaces.

Once you have completed the assessment, you will have a better idea of the scope of your project, and you can prioritize your next steps. Don’t be overly concerned if the size of the project seems daunting. The goal is to take this one step at a time.

Your priorities should focus on making the most impact with the least amount of effort. Removing dead and dying vegetation (including dry leaves, pine needles, limbs and small branches, brush parts, dead materials on the ground, unused timber, and debris piles) is first in both zones, starting closest to the house.

Dry, dead material that is ½ inch to 3 inches in diameter provides for high heat and is much easier to ignite than green materials.

Weed Control/Abatement

What Is Weed Abatement?

In the City of Rocklin, all vacant parcels shall be abated (weeds cut down, trash removed, and/or firebreaks created to limit any potential fire hazard and allow access for fire fighting operations) on a year-round basis as per the City’s Vacant Parcel Standards.

In April of each year, the owners of vacant parcels are notified, by letter, of their responsibility to abate their property.  This letter includes the cost schedule and the Notice of Intent, requesting the vacant parcel owner to check which option they will use to abatement their property and then mail or fax to the Public Services Department.  In May, a second reminder letter is sent via certified mail to property owners that have not returned the Notice of Intent

What Happens If Weeds Are Not Taken Care Of?

By the end of May, all vacant parcels that do not comply with the Standards for Maintenance of Vacant Parcels are declared a nuisance by the City Council. These parcels will be abated by the weed control contractor hired by the City to perform the necessary weed abatement. When the contractor invoices the City for the abatement work, the City, in turn, invoices the property owner for the contractor’s fees plus a per-parcel administrative charge according to the cost schedule.  If the property owner does not pay these fees, the City places a lien on the property until the fees are collected. The City’s Weed Abatement Contractor is Scott & Sons Weed Control.

Standards and Laws

Citywide Fuel Load Reduction Guidelines

Vacant Parcel Standards

California Public Resource Code Section 4291 

City of Rocklin Municipal Code Section 8.12

Fire Fuel Reduction Guide