The Rutherford Report: County's Fire Hazard Notices Get New Look

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“I have not failed. I have just found 10,00 ways that won't work.”

—Thomas A. Edison
County's Fire Hazard Notices Get New Look

It’s time to cut those weeds and limb up those trees.

San Bernardino County Fire Hazard Abatement officers are fanning across the County to determine if homeowners in unincorporated communities have removed fire hazards from around their properties.

It’s an annual ritual that aims to protect communities from devastating fires and protect our first responders.

Sometimes it also results in calls and emails from residents asking what fire hazards they need to remove or claiming inspectors must have cited them for their neighbor’s hazard-filled lot.

My office brought these issues up with Code Enforcement, and this year we’re hoping to avoid the confusion and ensure the right properties are cited through the use of technology.

In the past, Fire Hazard Abatement officers used a plot book and a camera to document overgrown weeds and other fire hazards. But, as one might imagine, that resulted in some homes getting cited for violations on adjacent properties.

Some property owners who received violations were also left wondering exactly what they needed to do to come into compliance since the notices didn’t include a photo of the offense.

This year Fire Hazard Abatements officers are using iPads with GPS technology in their fire hazard abatement efforts. GPS should help resolve the issue of property owners getting cited for their neighbor’s hazards.

Officers are also using the iPads to take photos of violations from the street, and they’ll include photos of the property and visible violations on the notices property owners receive.

So instead of getting a notice with an ambiguous “Remove High Energy Fuels” on it, property owners will receive actual photos showing what they need to correct.

Using technology will also speed up the process since officers won’t have to come back to the office and write up violations after spending a week or more doing inspections in the field. Instead, they’ll simply download the information from the tablets when they are back at the office.

In addition, the deadline to comply with the order is printed in bold red letters on the first page of the notice, so there’s no confusion about when property owners must clear their hazards.

Fire Hazard Abatement inspections are expected to begin in the mountain communities later this month.

Learn more about the County’s Fire Hazard Abatement program here or call (909) 884-4056.
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