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Local opinion columnists

Cut those weeds, and keep them cut

By From page A8 | June 08, 2014

I’ve written here previously about overgrown weeds at various gateway-type properties within the city, both for the unsightly appearance at these key locations and also because of the fire danger such overgrown dry grasses and weeds present.

Drought conditions this year make it imperative that we all do our part to minimize the potential for wildfires within the city.

Fairfield firefighters and their counterparts in other communities and in the county are engaged in specialized training in large part due to what’s expected to be an active fire season. They are also working to ensure that vacant property within the city is clear of potential wildfire fuel.

Firefighters seek our help to blunt what’s expected to be a dangerous fire season. The danger: Dry grass and brush across the region – material that’s prime fuel for grass fires.

Fairfield residents are used to the seasonal greening and browning of the grasses and brush in the surrounding foothills. The same is true of vacant lots in town – and landscaping that surrounds homes and businesses.

The city has guidelines for clearing dry grasses and brush within the city limits, guidelines that could cost you some cash if you don’t comply and the city has to take care of the situation for you. Failure to comply can also cost you your home or business should the tall, dry grass and brush ignite.

Fairfield’s rules cover property owned or maintained by the city and any undeveloped or developed private property within the city. These rules cover how properties are to be maintained during fire season to limit the potential for a wildfire that could threaten people or property. For example, dry grasses and weeds must be cut to a height of 4 inches or less — and maintained at that height for the duration of fire season, which typically begins in May and ends in October.

This year’s drought extended that time frame across vast swaths of the state.

The regulations also outline the process used by the city to remove dry brush, weeds and grasses should private property owners fail to do so. Equally important, the rules outline how the city will collect its costs for doing so, from the property owners.

It’s no secret we’re in the midst of a drought. The relief we saw with some early spring rainfall, while blunting the effects of the regional drought to some degree, actually set things in motion for a bad fire season. That’s because grasses that had essentially withered due to lack of rainfall got a new burst of life – and growth – before finally dying off for the season.

Fairfield Battalion Chief Bob Stoffel said this week that the area’s dry grasses are taller and drier than last year, a year that saw the city’s largest fire in modern times.

We all remember the Aug. 27, 2013, Marigold Fire, a wind-whipped monster that destroyed or damaged several homes, prompted what was arguably the largest regional response in the city’s history, and made national news. That fire was fueled in large part by tall grasses located behind the homes along Marigold Drive. We are fortunate that the fire didn’t spread farther than it did, and that no one was killed in the inferno.

So as firefighters get the word out about the importance of maintaining vacant property to protect against wildfires, and as fire officials across the state talk of “defensible space” – a clear barrier of 30 to 100 feet around your home – I add my call to the chorus: If you are responsible for some property, make sure that grasses, weeds and shrubs are kept in check. This includes grasses and weeds near homes.

You can also help firefighters by letting them know about any properties that pose a fire hazard. You can do so by calling 428-7065 or sending an email to [email protected]

If you want more information about how to prepare yourself, your family and your home for a possible wildfire, visit www.readyforwildfire.org. The site offers tips for people to make their homes more resistant to wildfires and to ensure that families are ready to evacuate early and safely when a wildfire strikes.

I don’t want to see another Marigold-type of fire this season in Fairfield. I suspect you don’t, either. So let’s all pull together and make this the safest fire season possible within the city.

Reach Glen Faison at 427-6925 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GlenFaison.

Glen Faison

Glen Faison

Glen Faison joined the Daily Republic as managing editor in September 2009. He previously worked as a reporter and editor for daily and weekly newspapers in the San Joaquin Valley for 20-plus years. His experience includes time as editor of the Golden Eagle, a military paper serving the Lemoore Naval Air Station. He graduated from Fresno State University with a bachelor's degree in journalism and bleeds Bulldogs red. He is an avid fan of the NFL's Washington team, and attended the 1988 NFC Championship Game against the Minnesota Vikings at RFK Stadium. He's a member of the Fairfield-Suisun Twilight Rotary Club and a board member for the Solano County Library Foundation. He married his wife, Jill, in 2005, and has three children: Courtni, Tyler and Hayli.

Discussion | 7 comments

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  • MikeJune 08, 2014 - 7:11 am

    As I recall, the Marigold fire was started and fueled by property owned and not maintained by either CalTrans or the County, definitely not the homeowner. I agree residents should do all they can to lessen fuel for fire around their homes but also their neighbors, fire does not respect property lines. Alleviate/Report potential fuel sources.

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  • rlw895June 08, 2014 - 7:42 am

    Don't wait for the City. Be a vigilante.

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  • DR_ReaderJune 08, 2014 - 8:22 am

    The city needs to do their part and ensure their property is compliant as well, for example... look at the vacant land on North Texas Street located by Les Swab that is owned by the city. The weeds are quite tall and have not been cut down for some time now.

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  • FairfieldJune 08, 2014 - 8:42 am

    how about the neighborhoods not only the front but I have seen some backyards with knee high weeds.

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  • MikeJune 08, 2014 - 9:17 am

    How does the bike path look? That runs for a good distance through Fairfiled with many homes abutted to it, the chance of a wind blown firestorm would be disastorous. Look around folks, it's our city.

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  • PornacJune 08, 2014 - 9:15 am

    One person's weed is another's pretty plant.

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  • 2realJune 08, 2014 - 10:51 am

    And remember , be careful around the redwood trees ;)

    Reply | Report abusive comment
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