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Spring is a good time to clean up

POSTED March 21, 2012 8:57 a.m.
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The first day of spring was yesterday, March 20. The days have been getting longer by just a few minutes every 24 hours. And now that we are back on Daylight Saving, note that it is already staying light until after 7 p.m. The sun will set at 7:16 p.m. today, to be exact.

The average daily temperatures are already higher as well, so this, along with fewer days of fog translates to faster growth of weeds, grasses and bushes. This same vegetation later turn into fire hazards once they dry out, and the dry season is only a month or two away. Now is the time to start cutting vegetative growth close to the ground, and when the ground is dry enough, fields and unimproved lots should be disked. Long term weather forecasts suggest that the coming months may be dry ones, so we can expect hazardous fire conditions this summer and fall, in particular.

State and local codes require properties in developed areas like cities to be free of excessive fire-hazard growth and debris. The kinds of things to eliminate are overgrown weeds, grasses, brush and bushes. Vacant lots are especially problematic, but if caught in time, the unwanted growth can be easily disked. It may require several diskings each season, but doing so can help eliminate the problem all together. The cuttings should also be removed from properties, along with any household discards like clothing, kitchen waste, newspapers, and other trash.

Dead or drying tree limbs that are near the ground or structures like houses and sheds should be removed. Firewood should not be stacked near the house or near any other wood structures. Now is also a good time to ensure that residential and commercial buildings have their addresses clearly displayed so they can be seen from the street, which aids in fire and police emergency responses. The department has observed that many homes and businesses have incorrect, partial, or no address numbers displayed at all.

In addition to the fire safety aspects, residents should keep in mind that overgrown vegetation and piles of debris and discards also attract unwanted vermin and insects. Rats, black widows, mice, snakes, and other pests thrive in those environments, so it is advisable to eliminate these threats.

The proper maintenance of yards and lots is important for basic fire and health safety considerations, and it is also a matter of community pride. Your local fire department or code enforcement agency can help with questions or complaints you might have. In Ceres, you can call the Code Enforcement Unit at 538-5799 with any questions or to report problems in your neighborhood. The following link that is hosted by the Office of the State Fire Marshal may also be helpful:
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