Wildland-Urban Interface & Vegetation Management
In 2017, Santa Rosa was significantly impacted by the Central LNU Complex incident which included the Tubbs Fire. The Tubbs Fire consumed 36,897 acres, destroyed 6,957 structures, damaged another 486 and resulted in the tragic loss of life. The Santa Rosa Fire Department will continue to assist our residents with planning for, preparing for and helping to prevent wildfires. We will also remain involved in the recovery and redevelopment phase of neighborhoods including those that fall within our Wildland Urban interface.
Community Wildfire Protection Plan
The City of Santa Rosa Fire Department is in the process of developing a Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) for the City Wildland Urban Interface areas. The CWPP is a Wildfire Annex to the 2016 Local Hazard Mitigation Plan.
The CWPP is funded through a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Hazard Mitigation Grant. Geo Elements LLC has been hired through a Professional Services Agreement to complete the CWPP.
Learn more about the the Community Wildfire Protection Plan, Scheduled Community Meetings and continuing updates to the Plan as it progresses, by visiting the CWPP page.
Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) Fire Area
Due to climate change, wildfires in the United States have been increasing in frequency and duration. In 2018, more than 58,000 fires burned nearly nine million acres across the U.S. destroying more than 25,000 structures, including 18,137 residences and 229 commercial structures. As a result, fire departments are fighting an increased number of fires along the Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI), which is defined as areas where homes are built near or among lands prone to wildland fire.
The WUI is not a place, per se, but a set of conditions that exist in areas of Santa Rosa. According to the National Fire Protection Association, conditions include (but are not limited to): the amount, type, and distribution of vegetation; the flammability of the structures (homes, businesses, outbuildings, decks, fences) in the area, and their proximity to fire-prone vegetation and to other combustible structures; weather patterns and general climate conditions; topography; hydrology; average lot size; and road construction.
On February 24, 2009, the Santa Rosa City Council approved an amendment to Chapter 47 Section 18-44.4702.1 of the 2007 California Fire Code (CFC), defining a Wildland Urban Interface Fire Area as follows:
Wildland-Urban Interface Fire Area is a geographical area in the City of Santa Rosa at significant risk from wildfires as designated on the map titled Wildland-Urban Interface Fire Area, dated January 28, 2009 and retained on file in the City Geographic Information System and in the Office of the City’s Fire Marshal. The Wildland-Urban Interface Fire Area shall include Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zones recommended by the Director of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection pursuant to Public Resource Code sections 4201 - 4204 and Government Code sections 51175 - 51189.
All new construction within a Wildland-Urban Interface Fire Area shall meet construction requirements as set forth in Chapter 7A of the most current adopted California Building Code (CBC).
Residents can learn more about the Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) by checking out the following resources:
- FireSafe Sonoma, READY, SET, GO! Your Personal Wildland Fire Action Guide
- Fire Safe Sonoma Website
- Living With Fire (PDF)
- City of Santa Rosa Wildland-Urban Interface Fire Area Map (PDF) (Updated 01/2009)
- Wildland-Urban Interface Fire Hazards Brochure (PDF)
Preparing Homes for Wildfire: Vegetation Management, Defensible Space & Home Hardening
Research around home destruction vs. home survival in wildfires suggests that embers and small flames are the reason that the majority of homes ignite in wildfires. Embers are burning pieces of airborne wood and/or vegetation that can be carried more than a mile through the wind and can cause spot fires and ignite homes, debris and other objects. There are methods for homeowners to prepare their homes to withstand ember attacks and minimize the likelihood of flames or surface fire touching the home or any attachments.
Proper vegetation management around the home, most commonly referred to as defensible space, is the space between a structure and the wildland area that creates a buffer to slow or halt the spread of fire to a structure. It protects the home from igniting due to direct flame or radiant heat. Defensible space is essential to help protect a structure during a wildland fire.
Additionally, home hardening is another technique residents should use to help protect their home and reduce the spread of fire.
Learn more about vegetation management, creating defensible space, and how to harden your home by viewing the following resources: