By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Weeds a serious issue
Placeholder Image
The days are finally getting longer, adding approximately two minutes (one at sunrise and one before sunset) for every 24-hour period. It is a welcomed time of year, with warmer weather, less fog and generally better conditions. The grasses, weeds and other vegetative matter also respond favorably to these changing conditions, growing rapidly every day. Lots and yards throughout this area that, just a couple of weeks ago, were barren or had dormant vegetation, are quite alive and starting to become overgrown. At this time and in the weeks to come, the growth can be as much as a half-inch or more every day.

Grass and brush fires are a major threat to structures, homes, wildlife, people and firefighters. We will not likely see fires similar to, or as dramatic as those last year in Southern California, but they can be very dangerous and destructive here as well. And this year, in contrast to last, has had a lot of rain to help the vegetation grow taller and for a longer period of time. The fire threat, therefore, will be greater than last year as well.

Public safety personnel view overgrown weeds and vegetation primarily as a life-safety issue. Fire is not the only associated factor; however, as rodents and other adverse life forms tend to gather is this kind of growth. There is now also an increasing awareness about appearance issues, giving another reason to keep yards and lots trimmed. Persons who, through ignorance or intentional neglect, are subject to civil fines and penalties, as well as being liable for damages, personal injuries and the cost of fighting the fire. Non-compliant property owners or occupants may also be cited or arrested for violations of the state fire code, city or county codes and the state health and safety code.

My point is not to emphasize the legal consequences, but to show that these fire hazards are real such that the law recognizes the importance of eliminating them. Of course, we hope for voluntary compliance instead of citations. Among the various laws that apply to allowing fire hazards, the Uniform Fire Code states: "Accumulations of wastepaper, hay, grass, straws, weeds, litter or combustible or flammable waste material, waste petroleum products, or rubbish of any kinds, shall not be permitted to remain upon any roof or in any court, yard, vacant lot or open space. All weeds, grass vines or other growth, when same endangers property or is liable to be fired, shall be cut down and removed by the owner or occupant of the property."

Weeds should be cut regularly from this point on. Unabated growth that exceeds a week or two will lead to more difficult cutting, and once dried, will pose a significant fire threat. This growth should be cut close to the ground and kept that way. Clippings should not be left to dry at the site, as they quickly become a fire hazard and are subject to spontaneous combustion. Disking and appropriate weed (and seed) killer is really the best option to keep the growth under control for longer periods of time. Otherwise you will find yourself having to mow the weeds at least weekly, and depending on the size of the land, it could become an overwhelming task.

It is my sincere hope that everyone takes care to keeps weeds and other vegetative growth from becoming a problem. It will save the fire department enforcement time while making it safer for everyone.