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Fire Chief: Preparedness Remains Vital During Fire Season

Mill Valley Fire Chief Jeff Davidson outlines the main initiatives used to curb the threat of wildfire in Mill Valley.

As massive fires in Colorado and elsewhere have raged in recent weeks, Mill Valley Fire Chief Jeff Davidson told the Mill Valley City Council meeting this week that it was vital for the city to remain well-prepared for the upcoming summer season.

Recent fires in both Mendocino county and San Louis Obisbo act as potential case studies for Mill Valley fire fighters, Davidson said, as both locations have similar topographic traits, vegetation types and access issues as Mill Valley.

As the summer progresses, the threat of fire becomes greater due to the prolonged drying of vegetation and lack of rain. Many factors contribute to what a fire season will look like and the threat is always there, according to Davidson.

He cited weather, topography and fuels as the three major factors to look at when it comes to wildfires. Many think of weather solely as temperature and humidity, but wind is the factor that can turn an easily contained burn into a raging fire. Topography deals with factors such as elevation and steepness, as certain sides of Mt. Tam are more prone to burn due to solar radiation. Fuel sources in Mill Valley are abundant and vary greatly, from annual grasses to redwoods.

has created three initiatives to help curb the threat of fire: , fire prevention and the . These programs work together to train local fire fighters, educate the community and clear potentially hazardous vegetation (fuel).

Last year the removed more than 300 tons of fuel, which was, according to Davidson, “a great step along the way to continue to reduce and mitigate.”

“The fire department, through the use of best practices and prevention, engineering, enforcement, and education continues to work to reduce the risk through mitigation," he added. "We need to remain vigilant so if a fire occurs we are prepared with an appropriate response.”

Rico July 20, 2012 at 12:15 AM
I am grateful the the City of M.V. uses the municipal services tax wisely in offering the vegetative management program. I have used it for the last 4 years to remove french broom and Redwood branches that constantly fall year round in my yard. In addition to this city sponsored service, there is also the green cans program under agreement with MVRS. I have 2 green cans, and if one packs those cans well, a whole lot of fuel can be hauled away every week. And, if one buys a weed whipper, they can do all the clearing when they have time, and make a pile to distribute into the green cans every week. The fire dept. told me that they won't insist on clearing all the Redwood debris, but in some areas I do it anyway for asthetics and because that stuff is extremely flammable. Also, if you have vegetation like wild onions, daisies, mules ears and other vegetation that is soft for the deer to sleep on, as long as it is kept green, it is safe to leave in place. It's the brown dry vegetation that everybody is worried about, not the green. Sure, it uses water, but not that much. I like to take the hose and hand water the areas of the yard that I want to keep green. I find it very relaxing and occasionally on a hot day (somewhat rare here), I train the hose on myself to help keep cool. Mill Valley does have some areas that are up in the hills that although they are lush, if a fire broke out it could be a problem for the residents to evacuate. .

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