Brush along narrow streets in the Monterey Hills area needs to be cut way back to allow quick passage for fire fighters responding to emergency calls. Photo by Harry Yadav

It’s that time of year again when the brush around homes and streets, especially narrow ones in the Monterey Hills area of South Pasadena, need a trim. In some cases, more than a trim. The brush needs to be cut way back to allow easy and quick passage for firefighters needing to get to an emergency call.

Everyone knows that in the case of an emergency, time is of the essence and unkempt vegetation can make it a life or death situation.

That’s why the South Pasadena Fire Department started conducting its annual brush inspections back in early May, according to Fire Chief Paul Riddle.

“Thus far we are very satisfied with the response from our citizens who received notices to clear hazardous vegetation from around their homes,” Riddle said this week. “We want to remind our citizens that this year it is especially important to stay diligent.”

Typically, the fire department requires clearance of 30 feet around a structure anywhere in the city. However, in the high-hazard hill area such as Monterey Hills, the clearance is up to 100 feet and in some extreme cases such as vacant lots, that clearance can be up to 200 feet, according to Riddle.

Riddle also said this year is more important than years past because of the lack of moisture in the air.

“With the less than normal rainfall, the brush and seasonal grasses are extremely dry,” he said. Clearing away brush from around the house, creates a natural barrier that fire usually cannot penetrate. Brush clearance along has meant the difference between an untouched home or a leveled home by fire, Riddle said.

“Removing the dead and dying vegetation from around your home creates a defensible space which allows Fire Department resources adequate time to respond to any reported fires,” Riddle said.

The South Pasadena Fire Department will be conducting brush inspections through the summer to ensure there has been no regrowth of hazardous vegetation. Riddle also said that homeowners can contact the fire department “at anytime” with questions regarding brush clearance requirements.

For further information, please contact the fire department at (626) 403-7300.

Steve Whitmore
Author

Steve Whitmore is the editor for the South Pasadena Review. Steve has spent more than four decades as an award-winning print and broadcast journalist with a 16-year stint as the senior media advisor for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Steve comes to us from the Keene Sentinel in Keene, New Hampshire, where he covered politics and was a columnist.

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