Saratoga is one of the 6 communities in Santa Clara County with zones designated as Very High Fire Hazard Severity by CAL FIRE. This page describes the City's efforts to plan for and prevent wildfires.
Fire Hazard Zone Requirements
The Very High Fire Hazard Severity zones, along with other parts of Saratoga that the City has identified as being at risk for wildfire, form the City of Saratoga Wildland Urban Interface area.
The City has adopted special fire protection measures and planning requirements for these areas of the City, in accordance with recommendations from CAL FIRE. this includes requirements that must be met before development occurs and ongoing property maintenance requirements, such as reducing flammable vegetation and maintaining defensible space. For additional information about property maintenance requirements, see the information below under Weed and Brush Abatement.
Given the potential for wildfire in Saratoga, the City has worked to identify fire-related hazards in the City of Saratoga and measures to mitigate these potential risks.
- City of Saratoga Safety Element (adopted February 20, 2013)
The Safety Element helps guide development in the City of Saratoga in a manner that effectively addresses potential hazards, including wildfire, and includes strategies for reducing risks associated with specific hazards.
- Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) (adopted August 1, 2018)
The CWPP identifies specific wildfire risks in the City of Saratoga and strategies for minimizing those dangers. Since Saratoga is served by two separate fire protection agencies that operate independently of the City, the CWPP calls for a collaborative that includes Santa Clara County Fire, the Saratoga Fire Protection District, other local fire agencies, the City, the County and other local government organizations, and local non-profit partners.
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 the City of Saratoga with support from the County of Santa Clara and the Brush Abatement Program (Wildland Urban Interface Preparedness Inspection) managed by the Santa Clara County Fire Department.
- Weed Abatement Program: All properties in the City of Saratoga are subject to Weed Abatement requirements.
- Brush Abatement Program (Wildland Urban Interface Preparedness Inspection): All properties in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) area of the City are subject to Brush Abatement requirements.
Properties throughout the City are inspected annually for compliance with both the Weed Abatement Program and Brush Abatement Program. Properties that fail to meet program requirements may be subject to fees, including the actual cost of removing flammable vegetation, and City Code violations.
Fire Safety Education
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.