Fire Services & Prevention
The City of Saratoga is served by two fire districts that operate independently of the City. The two districts are the Saratoga Fire Protection District and the Santa Clara County Fire Protection District.
Wildland Urban Interface Area
Saratoga is one of 14 communities in Santa Clara County that has been identified as being at risk for wildfires. Residents and property owners in parts of Saratoga that are especially susceptible to wildfire should create and maintain Defensible Space around permanent structures and road or driveways used for evacuation purposes.
Per State law, areas within the City that are at higher risk for fire. These areas constitute the Wildland Urban Interface area. Properties in this area are subject to a number of special requirements, including Brush Abatement requirements, creating defensible space, and disclosing the fact that property is located in a very high fire hazard severity zone to prospective purchasers.
Weed and Brush Abatement
In Saratoga, there are two programs that help protect Saratoga from wildfire by reducing potential fuel, like weeds and brush. These programs are the Weed Abatement Program managed by Santa Clara Department of Agriculture and the Brush Abatement Program (Wildland Urban Interface Preparedness Inspection) managed by the Santa Clara County Fire Department.
2017 Weed Abatement Process
At the January 18, 2017 and March 15, 2017, Saratoga City Council meetings, a number of property owners on the Weed Abatement Program list raised concerns about the program. The concerns raised included inadequate noticing and communications for the program, a desire to more closely align the Weed Abatement and Brush Abatement Programs, make the public nuisance declaration process for Weed Abatement fairer, and make fees and bills clearer and more transparent.
As a result, the City Council amended the 2017 Weed Abatement schedule authorized several process changes for this year, and directed City staff to develop a new Weed Abatement Program process for future years.
Letter to Property Owners
View a letter (PDF) sent to property owners in the Weed Abatement Inspection list that describes the 2017 inspection and abatement process and includes several key dates you should know about. Please read it carefully.
Weed Abatement Program
- Initial Inspection Fee - $60: Charged annually to all properties in the program. The fee recovers costs associated with data entry, file preparation, noticing, boundary determination, and overhead.
- Failed Second Inspection Fee - $485: Charged for properties that fail the second inspection their first year in the program or the annual compliance inspection, if the property is already in the program.
Weed Abatement & Brush Abatement Program
- Contract Work Fee - $434: Charged to properties if weed/brush removal is done by the County’s contractor. This fee is in addition to the costs to remove weeds/brush.
- County Contractor Weed Abatement Work: Prices vary depending on work type, which includes disc work, handwork, flail mowing, loader work, dump truck, brush work, debris removal, and dump fee.
Resources & Information
- Weed and Brush Abatement At a Glance (PDF) (Overview of program requirements and process)
- Saratoga Fire Hazard/WUI Map (Interactive map)
- Sample Weed Abatement Notice/Materials (PDF)
- Sample Brush Abatement Program Notice/Materials (PDF)
Fire Safety Resources
If you live in the hillside (or Wildland Urban Interface) areas around Santa Clara County, the Santa Clara County FireSafe Council has resources available to assist you to keep your home fire safe. A 20-page, step-by-step guide for homeowners and residents is available online or by calling 408-975-9591. The guide, Living With Fire in Santa Clara County, includes recently updated information on creating Defensible Space (PDF), fire resistant plants, and roofing materials.
Santa Clara County FireSafe Council
In 2013, the City and the Santa Clara County FireSafe Council (SCFSC) partnered to educate residents about maintaining defensible space and to provide free chipping of brush and limbs cleared from defensible space for residents living in the Wildland Urban Interface area. The Santa Clara County FireSafe Council is a non-profit organization composed of individuals and public and private sector organizations that share a common, vested interest in preventing and reducing losses from wildfires.
Programs & Projects
The Santa Clara County FireSafe Council's primary programs and projects are:
- Community Outreach and Education Programs: SCFSC volunteers distribute literature and other materials at community events and meetings. Community engagement is an essential part of these programs, which include Youth Education Programs for families and children living in Wildland Urban Interface areas.
- Hazardous Fuel Assessment and Strategy Projects: Our member organizations and other stakeholders identify fire prone areas in Santa Clara County, propose appropriate treatments to reduce the risk of wildfires and develop Community Wildfire Protection Plans.
- Hazardous Fuel Reduction Projects: Defensible Space Chipping Programs provide free chipping for homeowners in the City of Saratoga's Wildland Urban Interface areas who can do their own preparation. Additional assistance is available for those who qualify. The Santa Clara County FireSafe Council also conducts Fuel Break and Evacuation Route projects to provide safer emergency access and evacuation routes.