Last modified on Oct 19, 2018

Fire Planning Terminology

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Assets At Risk
Assets at risk due to wildfires in California include life and safety; timber; range; recreation; water and watershed; plants; air quality; cultural and historical resources; unique scenic areas; buildings; and wildlife, and ecosystem health.

Contract County
Contract Counties (CAL FIRE Pays Local Government for Services) Section 4133 of the Public Resources Code and Section 55607 of the Government Code permit the CAL FIRE Director to contract with counties for protection of State Responsibility Area (SRA). The counties of Kern, Los Angeles, Marin, Orange, Santa Barbara and Ventura have assumed this responsibility.

Defensible Space
By creating a fire safe landscape of at least 100 feet around your house, you will reduce the chance of a wildfire spreading onto your property and burning through to your home. This is the basis for creating a "defensible space" - an area that will help protect your home and provide a safety zone for the firefighters who are battling the flames. Clearing all flammable vegetation a minimum of 100 feet around your home and other structures will not only provide you with the greatest chance for survival, it is also required by California law.

CAL FIRE's Fire and Resource Assessment Program.

Fuel Break
Fuel breaks are wide strips of land on which trees and vegetation has been permanently reduced or removed. These areas can slow, and even stop, the spread of a wildland fire because they provide fewer fuels to carry the flames. They also provide firefighters with safe zones to take a stand against a wildfire, or retreat from flames if the need arises.

Initial Attack
Initial attack means the first attack on the fire. The number of resources sent on the first dispatch to a wildfire depends upon the location of the fire, the fuels in the area (vegetation, timber, homes, etc) and current weather conditions. Municipal fire departments would call this the first alarm. Most fires are caught within the first burn period (the first two hours). Therefore, the vast majority of the fires CAL FIRE responds to are considered initial attack fires.

Any person, agency or organization with particular interest - a stake - in fire safety and protection of assets from wildland fires.

State Responsibility Area (SRA)
The State Board of Forestry and Fire Protection classifies areas in which the primary financial responsibility for preventing and suppressing fires is that of the state. These include: lands covered wholly or in part by timber, brush, undergrowth or grass, whether of commercial value or not; lands which protect the soil from erosion, retard run-off of water or accelerated percolation; lands used principally for range or forage purposes; lands not owned by the Federal government; and lands not incorporated. By Board regulations, unless specific circumstances dictate otherwise, lands are removed from SRA when housing densities average more than 3 units per acre over an area of 250 acres. CAL FIRE has SRA responsibility for the protection of over 31 million acres of California´s privately-owned wildlands.

A fire occurring on wildland that is not meeting management objectives and thus requires a suppression response.

Wildland Fire
Any fire occurring on undeveloped land.

Wildland Urban Interface (WUI)
The wildland–urban interface (WUI) is commonly described as the zone where structures and other human development meet and intermingle with undeveloped wildland or vegetative fuels.


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