The Marin Post

The Voice of the Community

Blog Post

Marin County

"Wildfires - Partners in Prevention" - Marin County Civil Grand Jury

For the Marin County Civil Grand Jury's recent 2019 report on Wildfire Preparedness CLICK HERE

To read the 2003 Report on wildfires and emergency preparedness CLICK HERE.


The Summary of the 2003 Report reads as follows:

Marin County is at risk of a repeat tragedy such as the Mt. Tam fire in 1929, the Oakland Hills fire in 1991 and the Inverness Mt. Vision Fire in 1995. The Grand Jury explored what actions the previous wildfire wake-up calls have produced.

About 40% of Marin’s total 333,000 acres of land are in public ownership, much of it contiguous to privately held properties at the edge of the urban-wildland interface. The remaining 60% is privately owned.

The partners are responsible to protect and try to prevent a potentially devastating wildfire in both our public open spaces and our privately-owned real estate:

• The public sector is represented by local and state agencies: the Marin County Fire Department (MCFD), 13 other local fire departments and special districts, and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF).

• The nonprofit sector is represented by FIRESafe Marin, an organization that both encourages communities to collaborate when trying to solve problems related to wildfire prevention and acts as a conduit for public and foundation grants.

• Private property owners are an equally critical component in this partnership. Owners are required by state law to create and maintain defensible spaces around their properties.

Local firefighting agencies use four main strategies to mitigate wildfire danger: mutual aid agreements, vegetation management efforts, public information and education programs, and citations against private property owners who do not comply with defensible space laws. Not everyone agrees on which strategies are best, controlled burns are particularly controversial.

The Grand Jury found that local firefighters, since the early 1990s, have made significant strides in vegetation management, public education and intra-agency cooperation. Areas of weakness still exist. They are: lack of consistent enforcement of defensible space laws against property owners and failure to use controlled burns when mechanical tactics are otherwise inappropriate. The situation is exacerbated by shrinking financial and labor resources to control our ever-growing vegetation.

In most cases the public is cooperating. Working together, our public and private partners can reduce potential loss of property and life from a disastrous wildfire in Marin. Philosophies may vary, but the ability to succeed boils down to all doing their part in this partnership to help keep the wrath of Mother Nature under control. Wildfires – Partners in Prevention ENV-1 2.

The Grand Jury recommends aggressive enforcement of defensible space laws; stepped up public education programs aimed at children and wild-fire vulnerable neighborhoods; limited, targeted controlled burning when appropriate; establishment of a state Department of Corrections inmate camp in either Marin or Sonoma as an additional labor pool; and a mechanism for all agencies involved in firefighting to identify and implement county and state best fire prevention practices.

CLICK HERE to read the entire 2003 Report

To read the Marin County Civil Grand Jury's recent 2019 report on Wildfire Preparedness CLICK HERE