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Sonoma County Gazette
Fire Truck Access minimum clearance
Fire Truck Access minimum clearance12 feet wide x 13 feet high

Fire Safety Tips


Jun 25, 2018



During emergencies fire trucksmust have clear access to fires. Parked cars that obstruct access can be ticketed or removed. We are having serious problems in neighborhoods close to the Russian River with cars blocking access while visiting beaches. Any obstructions can delay or even prevent adequate emergency operations. The delay could cost someone’s life.

How much room is needs for fire truck passage? 14 feet wide minimum - but 20 feet is preferable. If a fire truck needs to follow a curve or corner, it must have at a minimum of 25 feet. Remeber time is critical. A fire doubles in size every 30 seconds. If we cannot get close to your structure we have to stretch hose by hand which eats up valuable seconds. (SEE BELOW FOR MORE INFORMATION)

Thanks to Sebastopol Fire Department for the following important campfire safety message:

Sitting under the stars by a crackling fire has its appeal. It’s where stories are told, sing-a-longs happen, and meals are cooked over an open flame. Campfires bring family and friends together. But campfire mishaps can cause injuries. With a few safety tips, you can prevent these accidents.

  • Before setting up the campfire, be sure it is permitted. Check with your local fire department.
  • If campfires are permitted, they need to be at least 25 feet away from any structure and anything that can burn.
  • Clear away dry leaves and sticks, overhanging low branches and shrubs.
  • Avoid burning on windy, dry days. It is easier for open burning to spread out of control when it is windy and dry.
  • Watch children while the fire is burning. Never let children or pets play or stand too close to the fire.
  • Attend to the campfire at all times. A campfire left alone for only a few minutes can grow into a damaging fire.
  • Keep a campfire small which is easier to control.
  • Never use gasoline or other flammable or combustible liquids.
  • Always have a hose, bucket of water, or shovel and dirt or sand nearby to put out the fire. Make sure to put it completely out before leaving the site.
  • If your clothes catch fire, stop, drop, and roll. Stop, drop to the ground and cover your face with you r hands. Roll over and over or back and forth until the fire is out.
  • Treat a burn right away. Cool the burn with cool water for 3 to 5 minutes. Cover with a clean, dry cloth. Get medical help if needed.
  • If roasting marshmallows, help young children. Never shake a roasting marshmallow. It can turn into a flying, flaming ball. A heated metal skewer can cause burns.
  • Attend to the campfire at all times. A campfire left alone for only a few minutes can grow into a damaging fire.

Campfire near water source

Forestville Fire

We  have a few personnel changes this month. Dave Franceschi has been promoted from Assistant Chief to Chief after 44 years with the department. Michael Franceschi has been promoted from Engineer to Captain after 14 years of service, and after 8 years serving as a part time Firefighter and volunteer Spencer Hanson has been hired as a Driver/operator.

Forestville sent a fully-staffed engine to assist at the Pawnee Fire in Lake County for a week this month, and then spent another week at the Klamathon Fire in Siskiyou County.

Graton Fire

Burn Ban The Sonoma County Fire Marshal and CAL FIRE have enacted the burn ban. This is due to the increasing danger of wildland fires. Sonoma County firefighters are deploying to other counties to help fight massive fires... let’s hope we can be fire safe here at home.

All backyard burning must stop until the fire marshal believes the threat is less severe(after 2-3” of rain). Call or visit your local firehouse (in Graton, that is 823-8400 x105 or look at the map outside our front door to find out). At that time, the Air Quality Management Districts will resume authority and you will need to follow their burning permit/notification process (forms available in front of the Graton firehouse).

Goldridge Fire

 Wrong Tool For The Job: On June 29th at approximately noon, Gold Ridge Fire District was dispatched to a reported vegetation fire in our Station 2 and 3 response area. The first arriving units found approximately a ¼ acre fire in freshly mowed weeds. The first two arriving units were able to extinguish the fire and keep it to the ¼ acre with the only other resulting property damage being the riding lawn tractor as seen in the picture. A person was mowing their weeds with the pictured lawn tractor when some of the weeds became lodged in the engine igniting those weeds. The fire then spread to the nearby vegetation and consumed the riding lawn mower. There were no injuries as a result of the incident.

Things to remember:

  When mowing weeds, please make sure you are using the right “tool” for the job. A weedeater or high weed mower is the appropriate tool for mowing “high weeds”, not a lawn tractor or lawnmower. 

  When mowing weeds, please make sure you have an extinguisher and or hand tools in close proximity to control any type of small fire that may start as a result of mowing.

  When mowing, please ensure that all activity is done early in the morning and completed before 10am. 

  If “fire weather” exists (hot, dry and windy), please refrain from outdoor activities near dry grass and brush.

If you have any questions regarding mowing or weed abatement, please contact your local fire department.

Assuring Adequate Fire Truck Driveway Clearance 

Not many homeowners often consider the idea of making a driveway accessible to Fire, Rescue and EMS vehicles. However when an emergency strikes, quickly getting a truck close to a home is CRITICAL. Below are steps you can follow to assuring we can get to you in your time of need.

  • WIDTH: We need a BARE MINIMUM of 12 feet of driveway width.Consider removing trees close to the driveway, especially on tight turns (we have a large turn radius). Consider the width of any culvert or bridge over your driveway. Not only do we have to get trucks up your driveway, we also need to run hose up your driveway and have enough room to work around our truck.

  • HEIGHT: Fire Code calls for a clear height of 13 feet 6 inches. Anything lower than this can tear antennas that are critical to radio traffic off the truck or prevent us from getting back to you at all!

  • WEIGHT: Our trucks weigh upwards of 25 tons (50,000lbs). Please assure that your driveway has a surface that can support that weight, that bridges and culverts are strong enough to not collapse. If we think a bridge or culvert will not support our weight, we will not cross it and will have to hand stretch all the hose to your house.

  • GRADE: 12%-14% is about the maximum grade a fire truck can manage.

  • ROADWAY ENTRY: The entry to your driveway from the road should be as close to 90 degreesas possible and have turnouts on both ends wide enough, usually around 20 feet, to let a long truck with a large turn radius swing into your driveway. Gates should be far enough back as to not obstruct our turn into your driveway and should allow us emergency access to your residence.  

If you have any other questions or would like us to evaluate your driveway and provide recommendations, please don't hesitate to call your local fire department.

Remeber time is critical. A fire doubles in size every 30 seconds. If we cannot get close to your structure we have to stretch hose by hand which eats up valuable seconds


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