CDF Evaluation of Fire Danger in our Zone

(Reproduced from pages 27 and 28)

Battalion Three: (Los Gatos)
Battalion Three is located in Santa Clara County and lies solely in the State Responsibility Area (SRA) bordering the north of Highway 152; west of the Almaden Valley; then east of the Santa Cruz County line; South from the San Mateo County Line. The Battalion includes watershed for local communities, as this watershed flows in to many lakes and streams managed by both the Santa Clara Valley Water District and the San Jose Water Company. The Battalion also is home to a large amount of Coastal Redwoods protected from development by open space districts along with County parks. The Battalion also has a number of small rural communities that have little or no governmental services.

Historically, the major wild land fire occurrence has been in the remote and sparsely populated South western portion of the Battalion Three, the 1987 Lexington Fire and the 1994 Croy Fire were large structure loss incidents in the Santa Clara Unit. The 2004 Fire Cause Statistics are consistent with previous years equipment use being the leading cause for preventable wild land fires. The 2004 Fire Season (May through October) statistics for Battalion Three are: 1 Battalion Chief; 7 permanent and 2 seasonal Fire Captains; 2 Fire Pilots and 2 seasonal Fire Apparatus Engineers; and 25 seasonal firefighters answered the calls with one utility (circa 1986) two fire engines (circa 1985, 1991) one helicopter (circa 1968) and one helicopter service unit (circa 1996) responded to 488 separate incidents, The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has identified (SRA) Fire Hazard Severity Zones as Moderate, High, & Very High - based on homogeneous lands and their fuel 27.

Santa Clara Unit
Fire Management Plan, 2005 loading, slope, and fire weather. In Battalion Three they are located by vertically dividing into three sections: the South section is a Very High (Loma Preita area), the center section is Moderate (West Santa Clara Valley Foothills), and the North section is High (Hwy 85 and Interstate 280) Battalion Three, because of its unique combination of vegetation, topography, climate and population, has one of the most severe wild land problems in the San Francisco Bay Area. Wild land and urban interface, rugged terrain and highly flammable vegetation coupled with high winds make the South West Santa Clara County foothills especially unsafe for development unless adequate fire safe measures are taken. Without regard for wild land fire protection and water sources, continued development in the SRA will heavily impact fire protection and emergency medic services. Solutions center on designing an acceptable level of risks for firefighters and residents that measure all elements of that risk. Pre-fire planning, mutual aid agreements, standard response plans, Mutual threat zones and high fire behavior warnings are necessary elements to measure the risks to reduce losses from wildfires.

Terry Clark
October 26, 2005