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Where the City Meets the Wildland
July 2008 | by Dismas Abelman


The City of Del Mar has taken a multi-faceted approach to fire prevention in the community. Inspections, education and fire-code updates have been the focus of the City's efforts to protect the community from fire. In past articles I have described the conditions that lead to large-scale fires in the San Diego region and how we can minimize our exposure to these conditions.

Vegetation management and construction standards can maximize the chances of people and structures surviving wildland fires. The City will continue to pursue a proactive approach to fire safety, which includes inspections, education and progressive fire codes.

The fire-safety approach targeted on multiple fronts is the most effective way to protect the community. Of all the factors that affect fire safety in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI), the single most important factor is vegetation management. In 2004 the City of Del Mar adopted the WUI code to address the issue of vegetation management and building construction in Del Mar's WUI. The City also received a grant to assist with the reduction the amount of fuel in and around Crest Canyon in 2006. Recently, the State of California has adopted the WUI Code and effective July 1, the City is responsible for enforcing the new code.

The biggest change in the new WUI code is a much larger WUI in Del Mar as defined by the State. Once the State has adopted a code, the City of Del Mar has the option of making the code more restrictive, but the City does not have the option of making the code less restrictive or choosing not to enforce the code. The result is that Fire Department personnel will inspect all properties located in the WUI for violations to the WUI Code. Fire Department personnel will inspect homes for vent protection, spark arresters on chimneys and vegetation management. The intention is to assist homeowners with voluntary compliance to make the City safer; however, all homeowners in the WUI have a responsibility to meet the WUI code.

The Del Mar Fire Department will be pleased to come to your home and help you determine actions you can take to make it more fire safe. Please call the Fire Department at 755-1522 if you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment.


Dismas Abelman is Deputy Fire Chief/Fire Marshal, Del Mar and Solana Beach Fire Departments.



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