Born from the State Board of Forestry's 1996 California Fire Plan, Marin County Fire Department implemented a Pre-Fire Management program in 1998.
Dramatic and damaging fires like the Mount Vision and the Oakland Hills occur nearly every summer in California. Within the state from 1984 to 1993, over 7000 homes were destroyed by wildland fire, 75 lives lost, with a cost of 3-billion dollars for damage and suppression. The goal of the Fire Plan is to reduce these wildfire related losses to citizens and government.
To accomplish this goal, the Marin County Fire Department hired a fire captain specialist to assess wildland fire hazards in the county. The four factors that make up the assessment are: hazardous fuel loading, severe fire weather, assets at risk, and past levels of service. Using new computer technology, each of these factors will be mapped to indicate areas of high risk and high hazard.
The primary goal of fire protection in Marin is to safeguard the wide range of assets found across wildland areas. There are several categories of assets listed in the state’s Fire Plan, such as: structures, air quality, water quality, infrastructure, etc. Some of these categories are tangible such as "structures" while others are harder to evaluate such as "air quality." Each category was compared to fuel loading to indicate overall risk.
With the completion of the assessment that identifies high-hazard areas in Marin County, vegetation management projects will be designed to reduce the hazard. Prescribed burning, chipping, and focused public education are a few examples of projects aimed at protecting assets at risk. The assessment identifies Marin County stakeholders, defined as any person, agency or organization with a particular interest (a stake) in fire safety and protection of assets from wildland fires. Stakeholders will play a vital role in designing and implementing fire hazard reduction projects.