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Feather River Bulletin
Quincy, California
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June 23, 2010     Feather River Bulletin
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Page 19 Plumas County Grand Jury Report therefore there are no regulations governing their flammability or structural integrity in fire conditions, posing a risk to firefighter safety. Recommendation: Adopt California's 2008 WUI Building Code Standard for all decks in Plumas County. E. Fire Departments are concerned with their ability to protect & suppress structure fires in very large homes in areas without hydrant sys- tems. Recommendation; Require home greater than 4,000 square feet to be sprinklered. 2. Access A. Homes are currently being remodeled or sold which do not comply with California and Plumas County requirements for address (road & house) signing (PRC 4290), often making responses difficult and longer. Recommendations; 1) Prior to building inspectors allowing work to begin and on final building permit sign off; require that address signing is compliant. 2) Develop a process fov4mmes being sold in Plumas County to be compliant with address signing. B. Homes are currently being constructed in Plumas County that do not comply with California's requirements for Fire Safe Driveways (PRC 4290) in California, making emergency responses more difficult. Recommendations: 1) Adopt the driveway ordinance proposed in 2007, which requires all driveways meet the PRC 4290 Fire Safe Standard. 2) Require all driveways for new construction meet the PRC 4290 Fire Safe Standard. 3) Require that all lots in a proposed subdivision be able to comply with the PRC 4290 Fire Safe Standard. C. Plumas County has no requirements for the opening of gates to access homes or communi- ties during an emergency creating a risk to pub- lic safety anddifficulties for emergency respon- ders. Recommendations: 1) Require Knox Boxes or an available means of access for any gates. 2) Require an available means of access for open- ing of community gates when power is out. D. Many homes in Plumas County have addresses that are not tied to their structure's access point, making emergency responses difficult and/or longer. Recommendations: 1) Develop a process for a check and balance sys- tem between the Sherriff's Office and Planning & Building Department to identify gaps & error's in street and address signing. 2) Prior to allowing work to begin on building per- mits for remodels or new construction, require verification of proper address and correction if necessary. 3) Develop a process for homes being sold in Plumas County to require verification of prop- er address and correction if necessary. 3. Hazardous Vegetation A. Many homes in Plumas County do not comply with defensible space requirements (PRC 4291). Local enforcement of PRC 4291 is limited to non-existent and the citing process cumber- some. This places homes, citizens and firefight- ers at higher risks, Recommendations: 1) Develop a process that allows County code enforcement officers, fire chiefs or designees, and code compliance officers, to enforce PRC 4291. 2) Prior to building permit final approval on building permits for remodels, require defensF ble space (PRC 4291) compliance as is required for new construction. 3) Develop a process with the County DA, Counsel, & departments to create a more effective mech- anism for obtaining defensible space compli- ance. 4) Develop a process for homes being sold in Plumas County to be defensible space compli- ant (PRC 4291) before they are sold. B. Subdivisions exist with extremely hazardous fuel conditions in common areas and on large vacant lot parcels which provide a continual threatto existing homes ancfpublic safy, and may prevent adjacent homeowners from attain- ing viable defensible space. Recommendation: Consider requiring treatment of hazardous fuels in community common areas and large parcels within communities at risk at some point in the future. 4. Community Planning & Development A. Plumas County Fire Chiefs have the responsi- bility for increased fire protection with increased development and sub-divisions, which creates additional impacts and an increase on the demand for their services, but they have no authority to specify requirements in the planning approval process, as they can only make suggestions. Recommendation: Develop a process to insure that the Fire Chief with the responsibility for protection has input and an appropriate role in the in approval process for a developments and subdivisions. B. There have been a number of existing or planned Subdivisions outside of a fire protec- tion district that are either left unprotected, or are impacting surrounding fire departments that may end up responding as good neighbors. Those departments receive no tax base or voice in the levels of service. Recommendations: 1) Stop approving new subdivisions for develop- ment without either annexation into a fire.pro- tection district, or the creation of a fire protec- tion district. 2) Create a County Fire Chief position that is responsible for the coordination of fire, EMS, and emergency services to the unincorporated portions of the County not currently covered by local agency, municipal or fire districts. C. New citizens of Plumas County who move here and purchase homes and propo.rty appear to not always be aware or informed on who provides their fire protection, what their insurance rat- ing is or what the wildland fire risk is until something happens. Recommendation: Develop a process for homes and property being sold in Plumas County to insure disclo- sures of the responsible fire protection agency, fire insurance rating and wildfire risk information. D. PRC 4290 requires 2,500 gallon water tanks for all new home construction when a communi- ty water system does not exist in subdivi- sions. Currently Plumas County does not require them for subdivisions approved before 1991. This creates a situation where there is no water is available for fire suppres- sion in entire communities, even as new homes are being constructed, posing a risk for increased fire size, structure loss and fire- fighter safety. Recommendation: Require all new homes constructed outside of a community with an approved community water system (regardless of when the subdivision was approved) to comply with PRC 4290 & provide 2,500 gallons of water for fire protection. E. Fire Hydrants in the County are not standard- ized, creating difficulty with assisting units in mutual aid incidents. Recommendation: Require all fire hydrants comply with a stan- dard 2 1/2", 4.5', 2 1/2" standard when installing or replacing hydrants. E Some subdivision zoning allowed for the con- struction of large subdivisions (with numerous homes) with the use of lower class roads that limit emergency vehicle response and adequate ingress and egress during an emergency. Recommendation: Require all proposed subdivision road classes are properly determined regardless of parcel size and that they comply with PRC 4290 ingress and egress standards. G. Subdivision maps have been approved for roads that allow Hammerhead T's in communities where the Fire Chief believes it will restrict emergency vehicle access. Recommendation: Develop a process for the County to work with the local Fire Chief having the protection responsibility on allowing hammerhead T's in lieu of turnarounds in new sub-divisions. H. Subdivisions have been approved with extreme- ly hazardous fuel conditions and placing the burden for treatments on each new individual property owner. This usually precludes econo- my of scale and treatment options, as well tak- ing away the opportunity for leveraging of for- est product values from all of the development. It generally leads to communities not being treated to a fire resilient condition. Recommendations: 1) Require the treatment of hazardous fuels throughout a proposed subdivision prior to the map being approved. 2) Require provisions for the maintenance of those treated stands by the CSD or HOA in the development proposal.