SACRAMENTO – Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, introduced a bill today that will assist in wildfire prevention and response by making homes safer.
“Creating a buffer around your home is a critical line of defense against the kind of devastation we’ve seen in California over the past few years,” Sen. Dodd said. “It can literally make the difference between life and death. My bill will educate the public and local government about the importance of creating defensible spaces to help families prevent wildfire damage.”
For more than 20 years, California law has required the clearing of grasses, trees, brush and other foliage from a 100-foot area around homes. It increases the probability of a house surviving a wildfire by eight-fold, according to the Office of the State Fire Marshal. Unfortunately, few local jurisdictions have effective and ongoing defensible space education and enforcement programs.
Senate Bill 190 directs the State Fire Marshal to do the following to increase awareness and compliance with defensible space rules:
- Develop a model defensible space ordinance for use by local jurisdictions.
- Allow local jurisdictions to recover related costs if they choose to adopt a defensible space ordinance.
- Provide an updated Wildland-Urban Interface building standards compliance training manual to local code enforcement personnel.
- Develop a guidance document for the maintenance of defensible space around structures for consideration as amendments to the California Green Building code.
Supporters made the following comments:
“As a fire chief who lives and works in wildfire-affected areas, I strongly applaud Sen. Dodd’s legislative effort to provide increased education to the public on the important issue of defensible space,” said Stephen Akre, Sonoma Valley Fire and Rescue Authority chief. “Defensible space is an essential component of protecting our homes and communities from wildfire. Providing ordinance and cost-recovery resources for these efforts will help make our communities safer.”
“We’ve done the right work on the development, adoption and implementation of our state’s fire-safety building codes,” said Dan Dunmoyer, president and CEO of the bill’s sponsor, the California Building Industry Association. “We’re building safer new homes. But more needs to be done to educate and partner with existing building occupants, owners and local code enforcement personnel to ensure that defensible space is maintained around all structures.”
SB 190 is co-authored by a bipartisan group of Assembly members consisting of James Gallagher, R-Yuba City; Tim Grayson, D-Concord; Tom Lackey, R-Palmdale; and Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield.
Senator Bill Dodd represents California’s 3rd Senate District, which includes all or portions of Napa, Solano, Sonoma, Yolo, Sacramento, and Contra Costa counties. You can learn more about Senator Dodd at www.sen.ca.gov/dodd.