County of Marin - News Releases - Wildfire Prevention

For Immediate Release
May 12, 2020

Amid COVID-19, Remember Wildfire Preparedness, Too

Marin fire agencies inspiring residents on home hardening, defensible space

San Rafael, CA – With the exception of recent sprinkles, the weather has been getting warmer and drier in Marin County. The Tam Fire Crew from the Marin County Fire Department is working to clear overgrown vegetation and improve evacuation routes, and evaluations begin in early June to check defensible space around homes.

A nighttime view of Marin County firefighters silhouetted against flames at the Valley Fire in Lake County.While sheltering in place, Marin residents are urged to prioritize wildfire prevention efforts around their homes to lower the chances of a major wildfire such as the 2015 Valley Fire that devastated Lake County.
Wildfire season won’t be stopped by the COVID-19 pandemic. During Wildfire Preparedness Week, Marin County fire agencies are encouraging residents to do their part to be ready for wildfire.

“The memories of devastating and fatal wildfires all around California remain fresh in the minds of firefighters, and we hope they will serve as a reminder for residents, too,” said Marin County Fire Chief Jason Weber. “Since we’re sheltering in place and getting a lot of home maintenance done, it’s a great time to assess and address defensible space and get your family to practice an evacuation. I’m challenging everybody to do them both.”

The Marin County Board of Supervisors recognized the statewide Wildfire Preparedness Week at its May 12 meeting. The Board has said emergency preparedness and wildfire prevention are among its top ongoing priorities. A recent resident survey showed that disaster preparedness and environmental issues ranked among the top concerns of Marin residents.

California has not made a statewide decision to halt prescribed fire operations, so controlled burns and other fuel reduction activities will continue. At least part of wildfire season will run concurrently with the coronavirus emergency, and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, better known as CAL FIRE, said mitigation efforts must continue as long as it remains safe to do so.

Locally, the Tam Fire Crew is an important part of the wildfire  preparedness effort. The team of firefighters is deployed on foot only with handheld equipment, usually in remote areas when on wildfires. When it’s not deployed around the state for active firefighting, the seasonal team of 14 assists with local brush cutting, falling dead trees, handling controlled burns, and improving forest health in locations throughout the county.

Marin County Fire has joined the nonprofit FIRESafe Marin, the Marin County Fire Chiefs Association, and CAL FIRE in urging residents to take on the responsibility to be prepared, especially as wildfires increase in number and severity as the impacts of climate change accelerate.

Weber said it’s not necessarily a wall of flames that will ignite a structure fire, it is fire embers.

“What we’re really trying to do is protect homes from raining embers by getting people to consider fire-resistant roofing and to clear spaces around homes of things that can easily catch fire,” he said. “Most of the time when we lose houses, it’s from the ember shower from the fire or from a burning structure nearby. If you don’t prepare your home and the surrounding vegetation, you are endangering your own home and neighborhood. We encourage neighbors to talk about this and support each other.”

Fire agencies highly recommend the installation of fire-resistant roofing, siding, vents, and dual-pane windows. Responsible vegetation management and keeping driveways and roads clear of overgrown shrubs helps ensure access by first responders during a wildfire. Other wildfire mitigation initiatives endorsed by the area’s fire chiefs included in the Marin Wildfire Prevention Authority:

  • Improvements to alert, warning and evacuation systems
  • Increasing public education and fire awareness
  • Annual defensible space evaluations including fire smart landscaping
  • Grant programs for seniors, low-income residents and those with mobility challenges
  • Expanding fire hazard reduction work

Residents are urged to register their contact information with Alert Marin notification system overseen by the Sheriff’s OES. More information about fire safety can be found on the FIRESafe Marin website, the Marin County Fire website, and CAL FIRE’s Ready for Wildfire website. Learn about how to prepare an emergency kit at the Ready Marin website.


Jason Weber
Marin County Fire Department

33 Castle Rock Ave.
Woodacre, CA 94973
(415) 473-6717
Email: Jason Weber
Marin County Fire website