Articles

Fire Prevention

Under the direction of the Fire Marshal, the Fire Prevention Bureau is responsible for safeguarding the community through adherence to fire regulations and hazard mitigation. Annual visits and fire safety inspections are conducted in businesses, apartment buildings, childcare facilities and schools, as well as annual inspections of existing business and apartment buildings.

Visits are made to businesses to ensure a fire safe facility and to provide occupants with safety tips and information.
Residential inspections are initiated through invitation or neighborhood concerns.

The Fire Prevention Bureau is also responsible for conducting plan reviews and inspections at construction sites in the City of Sierra Madre. All new construction and renovation projects are required to install fire sprinklers throughout the renovated structure.

The Sierra Madre Fire Code can be found under Title 8 and Title 15 of the Sierra Madre Municipal Code.

Sierra Madre Fire Safe Council

The weed abatement program is designed to reduce and minimize the potential for the spread of fire from one property to another and to make the suppression of a fire on a particular lot quick and orderly.

Defensible Spaces

Take responsibility - protect your home and create defensible space!

The Sierra Madre Fire Department is committed to protecting the homes in Sierra Madre from brush fires; however, we need help from the homeowners to give us a "fighting chance" by providing a defensible space around their homes. By reducing the amount of combustible brush around your house, as well as your neighbor's house, you have taken the first step to preventing disaster.
Through the brush clearance program, the Sierra Madre Fire Prevention Bureau works with residents in the foothills to help provide that "fighting chance" that is desperately needed to prevent a disastrous fire.

According to the California Department of Forestry, as many as 80% of the homes lost to wildland fires could have been saved if the homeowners had followed a few simple fire safe practices.
Brush Clearance requirements for homes in the high fire hazard area include:

  • The first 30 feet around any structure shall be free of native and hazardous vegetation.
  • The next 70 feet of ground cover shall be at a height of no greater than 18 inches (except trees).
  • Native shrubs within 100 feet of any structure shall be trimmed 2 feet above the ground and no closer than 18 feet to other vegetation or structures.
  • Maintain trees within 100 feet of any building or structure and within 10 feet from any roadway free of dead foliage and maintain branches and foliage 3 feet off the ground.
  • Remove any portion of a tree which extends within 10 feet of an outlet of a chimney.
  • Keep all shrubs and other growing vegetation adjacent to or overhanging any building free of dead limbs, branches or other combustible matter.
  • Maintain 5 feet of clearance between roof surfaces and portions of trees overhanging any structure.
  • Maintain roof surfaces of all structures free of leaves, needles, twigs and other combustible matter.
  • Maintain all weeds and other vegetation within 10 feet of a roadway at a height of no greater than 3 inches.
  • All cut vegetation must be legally disposed of.
  • Post street address numbers on the front of structures.

Do not cut vegetation to bare soil! These actions may accelerate soil erosion and cause mudslides. Remember, "THIN, YOU WIN; STRIP YOU SLIP"

Providing this defensible space is YOUR LEGAL responsibility and the key to defending your home during a wildfire. Working together we can battle the wildfire problem, but you must start around your own home. The Fire Departments Brush Abatement Program begins May 1st.

If you have any questions, or would like additional information, please contact the Sierra Madre Fire Prevention Bureau at 626- 355-3611 or visit the California Fire Alliance.

Fire Sprinklers

Fire sprinklers are economical, reliable and a proven method to protect your family and home during a fire. The advantages of installing sprinklers in your home include assurance of a safer environment for your family, protection of your investment and irreplaceable family possessions. Studies by the Federal Emergency Management Agency's United States Fire Administration indicate that the installation of residential fire sprinkler systems could have saved thousands of lives; prevented a large portion of those injuries; and eliminated hundreds of millions of dollars in property losses.

Fire Sprinklers Fact vs. Myth

Myth
Sprinklers may go off accidentally.
Fact
Loss records of Factory Mutual Research indicate that the probability of a sprinkler accidentally discharging due to a defect is 1 in 16,000,000.
Myth
If one sprinkler goes off, they all go off.
Fact
Sprinkler heads are designed to react to temperatures in each room individually. Normally, in residential fires only the sprinkler over the fire will activate.
Myth
Sprinklers cause water damage.
 
Fact
Residential fire sprinklers discharge 12 to 18 gallons of water per minute as compared to 150 to 250 gallons per minute from a fire hose. If a sprinkler were to flow for 10 minutes, there would be 120 to 180 gallons of water discharged and the fire would be out before the fire department arrived. Without sprinklers the fire would continue to build. After 2 to 3 minutes, the room would become fully involved in fire and would cause irreversible smoke and heat damage throughout the house. It will take the fire department anywhere from 8 to 15 minutes to control the fire with hose streams. That's 1200 to 2300 gallons of water and a fire loss that is 85% higher than a home with sprinklers.
Myth
Fire sprinklers are too expensive to install.
Fact
In new construction, residential sprinklers can be installed for $.60 to $1.20 per square foot. Sprinklers can be installed in a 2,000 square foot house for only $1,200 to $2,400.

Smoke Detectors

Smoke detectors are an inexpensive method used to save lives during a fire. A fire can spread quickly through your house leaving you with very little time to escape. Your ability to safely escape a burning home depends on the advance of a smoke alarm.

Safety Tips

  • Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each separate sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement. Interconnect all smoke alarms throughout the home. When one sounds, they all sound.
  • Test alarms at least monthly by pushing the test button.
  • Replace batteries in all smoke alarms at least once a year. If an alarm "chirps", warning the battery is low, replace the battery right away.
  • Replace all smoke alarms, including alarms that use 10-year batteries and hard-wired alarms, when they are 10 year old or sooner if they do not respond properly.

Weed Abatement

It is the intent of the City to encourage property owners to maintain their property in a safe condition. Each year the Sierra Madre Fire Department conducts inspections throughout the city to ensure that all residents are in compliance with the city ordinance.

Property owners found in violation will be contacted via first class mail and will be given thirty days to clear their properties. After re-inspections of the properties are conducted, lots still found in violation are referred to the Court System by the Fire Marshal.

When a Fire Starts

If your smoke detector sounds, or you smell smoke, stay low the ground. Heat and smoke rise, therefore, the air is clearer and near the floor. Feel the door with the back of your hand, if the door is cool, stay low and open the door slowly. Crawl low under any smoke to make your exit. Head for the closest exit from the home, closing all doors behind you. If the door is hot, do not open it; seek an alternate exit such as another door or window. If you are on the second floor, use an escape ladder, do not jump. Hang full-length before you drop, this lessens the distance between you and the ground. If you don't have a ladder, wait next to the window for help to arrive. Place a white or light colored cloth near the window to alert firefighters of your presence. Never re-enter a burning building once you leave. Call 911 from a neighbor's house. Stay calm!