Marin residents are served by a variety of local municipal fire departments and fire districts. Each fire agncy in Marin partners and works closely with FIRESafe MARIN to assist Firewise USA neighborhoods and provide wildfire safety education, planning, and hazard mitigation.
Your local fire department is responsible for enforcement of the Fire Code, setting standards, and providing community safety education and services. All fire departments share responsibility for emergency response, and work together closely through a “mutual aid” system to ensure a statewide response to major wildfires and other large emergency incidents. Get to know your fire department!
Bolinas Fire Protection District
Service Area: Bolinas
100 Mesa Rd, PO Box 126 Bolinas, CA 94924
Central Marin Fire Department
Service Area: Corte Madera, Larkspur, incorporated Greenbrae
342 Tamalpais Dr Corte Madera, CA 94925
Inverness Public Utilities District
Service Area: Inverness Public Utilities District
50 Inverness Way Inverness, CA 94937
Kentfield Fire Protection District
Service Area: Kentfield, unincorporated Greenbrae
1004 Sir Francis Drake Blvd Kentfield, CA 94904
Marin County Fire Department
Service Area: Marin City, Throckmorton Ridge, West Marin (Forest Knolls, Hicks Valley, Lagunitas, Nicasio, Point Reyes, San Geronimo, Tomales, Woodacre)
33 Castle Rock Rd, PO Box 518 Woodacre, CA 94973
Marinwood Fire Department
Service Area: Marinwood Community Services District
777 Miller Creek Rd San Rafael, CA 94903
Novato Fire Protection District
Service Area: Incorporated and unincorporated Novato
95 Rowland Way Novato, CA 94945
Ross Valley Fire Department
Service Area: Ross, San Anselmo, Fairfax, Sleepy Hollow
777 San Anselmo Ave San Anselmo, CA 94960
Mill Valley Fire Department
Service Area: City of Mill Valley
1 Hamilton Dr Mill Valley, CA 94941
Gutters play a role in providing a means of collecting and directing rainwater from the roof into downspouts, and then away from the house. This helps reduce the amount of water in the soil that can enter the crawlspace or basement and result in moisture-related performance problems such as those from mold and wood decay fungi.
Combustible debris such as leaves and pine needles can accumulate in gutters, especially from nearby or overhanging trees. Due to difficulty in accessing upper stories of a home, gutters two and three floors high are even more problematic, since they will be difficult to clean out on a regular basis. If ignited, combustible debris in the gutter will expose the edge of the roof covering, typically the fascia and or roof sheathing. Depending on the condition of the wood and presence (or absence) of metal flashing at the edge of the roof, debris in the gutter may make it easier for fire to enter the attic. Metal flashing at the roof edge will provide additional protection to the roof edge and therefore is a recommended detail.
As shown in the photograph below, the roof deck boards in this eave overhang area are decayed. These boards would be more easily ignited if debris in the gutter ignited, In this case, angle flashing at the roof edge was used, but the poor condition of the roof would still make this a vulnerable area.
Metal gutters have been recommended over plastic gutters in fire hazard areas. Embers will ignite accumulated debris in any gutter. Metal gutters will stay in place, and therefore the resulting fire will continue to burn at the roof edge. Vinyl (or plastic) gutters will quickly detach and fall to the ground. The debris and combustible gutter material will continue to burn, igniting any combustibles (mulch, vegetation, wood piles) and potentially any combustible siding. Flames can be high enough to impinge on windows. If you have vinyl gutters, a noncombustible (or low flammability) zone near the home is critical (e.g., use noncombustible rock mulch and carefully selected and maintained vegetation). If you have metal gutters, make sure the components at the roof edge are well maintained. Regardless of the gutter material, clean out debris in the gutter on a regular basis.
Gutter guards or covers can be installed over or in your gutters. When properly installed (and maintained), these can reduce the amount of vegetation litter and debris that accumulate in your gutter and therefore reduce the need to clean it. Some products can become dislodged over time, and they will have to be reinstalled when this happens. Some products can result in the accumulation of debris on the roof, behind the gutter. There are a number of commercially available products specifically intended for this purpose - just type gutter guard in a web-browser search engine to get an idea of the available products. To date, there isn’t a standard procedure to evaluate the performance of these products.
Note that some of the covers in the gutters on this roof have dislodged, and therefore no longer keep out debris. Gutter guards should be inspected regularly, and reattached when necessary.
The following photograph shows debris that has accumulated behind the gutter cover. This Class A roof covering will be able to handle the fire if this debris is ignited by embers, but because of the proximity to the roof edge, this debris should be removed from the roof.
It is possible that your home won't have gutters. Although this will eliminate any 'debris accumulation' issue, it will result in a heavy rain load around your home, and depending on drainage, may contribute to moisture related problems.
Hire a professional if you are unsure or lack the proper tools. Some roofing materials can be damaged if you walk on them, and every roof poses a fall hazard.
Always use a sturdy, well-footed ladder to reach your roof and gutters.
Don't clean your roof alone. Be sure there is someone with you, on the ground, to help when needed.
Check your roof. Is it well maintained? Is the roofing made from a fire resistant (Class "A") material like tile, composite shingles, or tar and gravel? It can be difficult to tell whether you have a Class “A” fire-rated roof, unless it’s made of an obviously noncombustible material, such as tile. If you are not sure about your roof, schedule a professional roof inspection to find out.
Always keep your roof clean of debris. Clean it as often as necessary during fire season. Remember: even a tiny handful of leaves is enough to burn your home!
Check your gutters. Metal gutters are safest, and all gutters must be maintained completely free of leaves, needles, and vegetation during fire season (and the rainy season too, or course). Like the rest of your roof, you may need to clean them more often during the summer if you live in an area where leaves are likely to fall onto your roof.
REGISTER TO RECEIVE EVACUATION NOTICES & Fire Information
During wildfires, Marin residents should be prepared to monitor multiple sources for fire and life safety information. Emergency managers will use several methods to distribute fire information: Alert Marin, Nixle, Social Media, local TV and radio, and social media (Facebook and Twitter) are the primary outlets. Don't neglect to use your own senses - look, listen, and smell for signs of fire and changing conditions!
WHEN DO WE USE IT?
When ACTION is needed at a SPECIFIC ADDRESS
Imminent flooding, wildfires, and evacuations with life safety implications
During-event information about evacuation routes, shelters, transportation
Other public safety incidents where lives may be at risk
WHEN DO WE USE IT?
When INFORMATION is needed in a ZIP CODE
Road closures, general updates, issues affecting larger areas
Post-disaster information about shelters, transportation, or supplies
Police activity and general public safety information
Twitter, Facebook, NextDoor
WHEN DO WE USE IT?
Less critical and low level UPDATES intended for larger populations
Traffic updates, road closures,incident updates, and contact information
Safety announcement, power outages, minor issues, frequent updates
Disaster recovery resources
During a wildfire, "Alert Marin" is used to provide notice by phone, text, email, or app when an ACTION must be taken at a SPECIFIC ADDRESS.
If a wildfire requires evacuation in Marin and time allows, emergency managers will use the Alert Marin system to send out notifications by telephone, cellular, VOIP, and text message users who have pre-registered specific street addresses. If you live, work or go to school in Marin County, you should register to receive emergency alerts sent by voice, text, email, or smartphone application. You can register to receive notices for several locations you are likely to spend time at, or monitor family member's addresses as well. Register every address, phone number, and device in your household. Don't delay.
IMPORTANT! ALERT MARIN IS USED WHEN ACTION MUST BE TAKEN AT A SPECIFIC ADDRESS! ALERT MARIN IS NOT A GENERAL PUBLIC INFORMATION SOURCE! Alert Marin will not be used to provide routine updates or fire information!
You MUST pre-register to receive Alert Marin evacuation messages by cell phone or VOIP (Comcast, DSL, or satellite home phones, for example).
Alert Marin messages are infrequent and important. Please be sure to set the Alert Marin contact numbers for "Emergency Bypass" on your mobile phone (see below).
During a wildfire, "Nixle" is used to provide INFORMATION by text message targeting ENTIRE ZIP CODES when new INFORMATION becomes available.
Register for Nixle by texting your Zip Code to 888777 or register online to configure and fine-tune your messaging options.
Please understand that during a wildfire, initial messaging may take time to develop as firefighters focus on attacking the fire and gather information. Do not expect frequent updates by Nixle (or Alert Marin). Information will be updated only when conditions change or updates are warranted. Social media or TV and radio are good options to monitor for "play-by-play" updates.
It is important to understand that Alert Marin and Nixle are different, complementary systems, and currently require separate registrations! Nixle is an opt-in text message service used to announce local information, targeting zip codes. You are likely to receive frequent, low-level, non-emergency texts from many local public safety agencies by Nixle. Nixle may be used to provide general fire information or rebroadcast evacuation alerts, but Alert Marin is a separate and distinct system targeting specific street addresses with the ability to send voice, text, or email ACTION messages. FIRESafe MARIN recommends that everyone register for Alert Marin and Nixle, and understand the difference!
Social media such as Facebook and Twitter are excellent sources of public information and may be used by local agencies during emergencies. Be sure to follow your local fire department, Marin County Fire Department (@marincountyfire), Marin County Sheriff's Office (@marinsheriff), and your local police department to monitor fire information and receive updates during local wildfires.
Wireless Emergency Alerts are well know as the system used to distribute "Amber Alerts." These are sent to large geographic areas, and may be used to send information for large scale emergencies and disasters. Be sure to verify that Wireless Emergency alerts (Amber alerts and Emergency Alerts) are turned on in your cell-phone's settings. For example, on an iPhone, under settings/notifications, scroll to the bottom of the page and ensure all alerts are turned ON.
NEW - Alert Marin registrants can send a test notification to ensure the system works properly!
Will you notify me every time a fire is burning nearby?
It’s important to understand that you will NOT receive routine notifications whenever the fire department responds to a fire in your neighborhood. In most cases, firefighters are able to quickly extinguish fires without the need for evacuations. Alert Marin will normally be used only when there is threat or need for evacuation, and messages will only be sent to the addresses impacted!
Nixle and Twitter, as well as local tv and radio, are also good sources for local information, but are NOT the official evacuation notification system in Marin. Do not rely exclusively on these alternate sources for evacuation information!
When a severe weather watch or warning is issued by the National Weather Service, many NOAA Weather Radios are able to alert you with a loud warning tone or siren, giving you the seconds you need to evacuate or seek shelter. Local agencies may issue evacuation notices through this radio based system as well, providing a backup notification system to homes that may be without power or out of cellular communication range.
California law authorizes officers to restrict access to any area where a menace to public health or safety exists due to a calamity such as flood, storm, fire, earthquake, explosion, accident or other disaster. Refusal to comply is a misdemeanor. (Penal Code 409.5)
The terms Voluntary and Mandatory are often used by the media to describe evacuations. In Marin, fire agencies and law enforcement will use the terms Evacuation Order, Evacuation Warning, and Shelter In Place. These terms are used to alert you to the significance of the danger and provide basic instructions. All evacuation instructions provided by officials should be followed immediately for your safety.
SHELTER IN PLACE
Fire expected to arrive in less than 1 hour, with threat to civilian life. Evacuate immediately, do not delay to gather belongings or prepare your home.
Fire expected to arrive in 2 hours or more, with threat to civilian life. Evacuate as soon as possible. A short delay to gather your evacuation kit and prepare your home (see Evacuation Checklist) may be ok.
Community members should stay secured in current location. Sheltering in place may be used when evacuation would cause greater threat to life.
WILDFIRE EVACUATION PREPAREDNESS
Download and print our Wildfire Evacuation Checklist and Family Communications Plan. If evacuation is anticipated and time allows, follow this checklist to give your family and home the best chance of survival. Be sure to complete the Family Communication Plan on the opposite side for each family member and keep in your “Go Kit(s).”
FIRESafe MARIN offers a comprehensive WIldfire Evacuation Guide, helping Marin residents understand the complexities of evacuating in an urban environment, and providing detailed instructions on how to prepare yourself, your family, and your neighbors to survive a wildfire.
Preparing horses and other large animals for a wildfire evacuation requires an extra level of planning, preparedness and practice. Building an evacuation kit for each animal, and having a plan for them that’s been practiced, increases the potential your animals will be able to leave when you do. If the wildfire’s proximity does not permit the time needed to load animals in trailers, it’s best to turn them loose and not leave them confined in a barn or pasture.