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For Immediate Release
May 6, 2013

Contact:
Jim Palisi, Fire Marshal
Redwood City Fire Department
(650) 780-7457

Wildfire Awareness Week and Arson Awareness Week - May 4 - 11

Redwood City, CA - The 2013 fire season is rapidly approaching, and with the winter season of below-average rainfall the green grass and vegetation is drying out earlier than expected. When combined with summer temperatures, the dry vegetation will pose an increasing threat for fire danger. In preparation, Cal Fire has declared May 4 - 11 as Wildfire Awareness Week, and urges residents to visit www.readyforwildfire.org for information about steps they can take to increase the chances of their homes surviving a wildfire.

At the same time, the US Fire Administration (USFA) has declared that same week as the 2013 Arson Awareness Week, to focus public attention on residential arson and provide communities with tools to reduce the incidence of this crime. The goal for this year's Arson Awareness Week is to provide all residents with strategies to combat arson in their neighborhoods.

Wildfire: for residents in the hilly portions of the City, the Redwood City Fire Department is offering important information to help reduce the possibility of fire, and protect life and property. A key point is to clear brush and grasses to a minimum of 30 - 100 feet from their homes or to the property line, whichever comes first. Doing so creates the fire-defensible space as required under state law. Specific methods for performing the clearing can be learned by visiting the Fire Safe Council of San Mateo County site at  www.smcfiresafe.org and Cal Fire at www.fire.ca.gov. Another good link for wildfire safety info is www.livingwithfire.info/wildfire-awareness-week.  

Here are more fire safety tips for residents in those areas which may be susceptible to wildfire:    

  • Cut and mow grasses and weeds to a height of no more than 4 - 6 inches
  • Remove dead and dry brush around the home, remove pine needles and other debris from roofs and gutters, and remove dead and dying tree limbs 6 - 8 feet from the ground
  • Plant low-growing fire resistant vegetation around the home

Residents can contact the Redwood City Fire Department at (650) 780-7400 for additional information regarding wildfire awareness and creating a defensible space.

Arson: this year's USFA theme is "Reducing Residential Arson" - the Redwood City Fire Department is taking this opportunity to remind the community that it's estimated on average there are over 300,000 intentional fires reported to fire departments across the United States each year, causing injuries to nearly 8,000 firefighters and civilians. In addition it's estimated that $1.1 billion in direct property loss occurs annually as a result of arson.

Arson robs communities of its valuable assets - lives and property. Arson destroys more than buildings: it can devastate a community resulting in the decline of the neighborhood through increased insurance premiums, loss of business revenue, and a decrease in property values.

To combat the potential for arson, communities can develop a Neighborhood Watch Program, and partner with local public safety, insurance providers, business leaders, churches, and local community groups. Neighborhoods can reduce the likelihood of arson occurring by promoting neighborhood watches and educating people about recognizing and reporting unusual activities, along with implementing improved internal and external security for homes and businesses. Residents interested in considering a Neighborhood Watch should contact Redwood City Police Officer Diana Villegas at 650-780-7104 or dvillegas@redwoodcity.org. The  USFA website at has for more information on what residents can do to prevent arson.

The Redwood City Fire Department offers one final reminder: all forms of fireworks are illegal in Redwood City. These include fireworks advertised as safe and sane as listed by the California State Fire Marshal's Office. Any person found using such illegal fireworks can be cited and will be held financially responsible for the fire suppression cost. The Redwood City Fire Department's website is located at www.redwoodcity.org/fire.

Visit Redwood City's award-winning website at www.redwoodcity.org for information about the City and its services, the community, recreation programs, education, and local business. Subscribe to Redwood City's email newsletter and other City documents by visiting www.redwoodcity.org/newsletters.

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