The 2014 California wildfire season is finally winding down. No doubt the number of wildfires continues to increase given the state’s ongoing drought problem. Through the end of October this year, there were approximately 5,400 wildfires compared to approximately 4,400 – the 5 year average for the same January-October interval.1

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) is urging homeowners in more wildfire prone areas to create a “defensible space” ahead of the next wildfire season.2 Tips to creating defensible space include:

  • Maintain 100 feet of defensible space around all structures
  • Clear all needles and leaves from roofs, eaves and rain gutters
  • Trim branches six feet from the ground
  • Landscape with fire resistant / drought tolerant plants that require little water
  • Remove branches away from roofs and 10 feet from the chimney
  • Use trimming, mowing and powered equipment before 10:00 a.m. and not on hot, windy days
  • Keep wood piles and flammable materials at least 30 feet from the home

Even urban areas such as Los Angeles, where I live, are susceptible to wildfires or brush fires. I had the privilege of listening to Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Ralph Terrazas speak to an audience last week at the meeting of the California Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (CAPIA). Chief Terrazas oversees the city’s 106 fire stations and 3200 uniform firefighters. According to Chief Terrazas, one of his biggest concerns is a local brush fire getting out of control. He talked about the 2007 Malibu Canyon Fire and 1961 Bel Air Fire as examples. At the conclusion of his talk, Chief Terrazas (pictured below) was presented a check payable to the foundation which supports individual fire stations for needs that are not met by the city budget—items include basic things such as dishes and washing machines for uniforms.

To all firefighters—men and women—who risk their lives to protect residents and property, you deserve our gratitude and more.