Wildfire Prevention and Preparedness


At the November 2018 LCA meeting, the Woodside Fire Protection District ran through a presentation regarding wildfire preparedness. In the light of the recent tragedies in Paradise, Santa Rosa, Redding, and Malibu this seems especially timely and critical for everyone.


This article is just a summary. Please take the time to go read the materials and start taking action at your property and surrounding neighborhood. 


  • Residents are STRONGLYencouraged to sign up for the SMC Alert system (https://hsd.smcsheriff.com/smcalert), the primary way that the Fire District is able to directly contact residents regarding wildfires and evacuation orders through mobile and home phones.



  • California has severe wildland fire risk due to population, vegetation, topography, and climate. This is exacerbated by population growth near the wildland urban interface areas. Portola Valley and Ladera are at high risk due to all these factors.
  • Much of the native vegetation is extremely flammable (e.g. grasses, chaparral, coyote bush). Introduced species such as broom and eucalyptus are even worse and should be removed whenever possible.
  • Woodside Fire Protection District does not have enough resources to protect against a fast-moving wildfire event. They will pull in mutual aid, but this takes time. 
  • Homeowners have the responsibility to make sure their homes and neighborhoods are wildfire resistant. CalFire estimates that as many as 80% of homes lost to wildfire could have been saved if their owners had provided defensible space & hardened their home.
  • Many houses are lost by embers landing on a roof, deck, or penetrating through vents. This can be exacerbated by leaves and other debris.
  • If needed, 


Prepare, Plan and Escape

Preparation and planning are keys to reducing the risk of fire to property and life. Download and read the guide available at https://goo.gl/R66zFe containing instructions on how to prepare, plan, and escape.

  • Create Defensible Space around your home
    • Eliminate flammable vegetation to 30 feet from home.
    • Remove tree limbs up to 5 ft from ground and within 10 feet of roofs and chimneys
    • Remove leaves and high grasses out to 100ft from home
    • Create vegetation "islands" and eliminate "ladders" to prevent spread of fire
    • Oaks are considered valuable as they are slower to catch fire and create shaded fuel breaks.
  • Harden your home
    • Install smoke detectors
    • Replace wood shake roofs 
    • Keep gutters, eaves, and decks clear of debris
    • Cover all vents with 1/8" metal mesh
    • Install tempered dual-pane glass window
  • Create an Action Plan 
    • Make an emergency evacuation plan with your family
    • Assemble a “go-bag” with emergency supplies including food, water, and clothing
    • Make a list of the most important things to grab when evacuating
    • Scan important documents onto a thumb drive or upload to a cloud storage system
  • Evacuate IMMEDIATELY when instructed. 
    A majority of people who die in wildfires do so because they left too late.
    • Leave early and follow evacuation orders
    • If you need more time, don’t wait for the evacuation order
    • Drive calmly with lights on
    • Don’t block the roadway for fire and emergency responders
  • Join the Ladera Emergency Preparedness team
    The LEP coordinates with the fire district, sheriff’s office, and other community emergency preparedness groups. The LEP depends on residents to volunteer and actively participate as block captains.  Contact Dave Ellison or Ken Fenyo to join or for more information.

Additionally, all the materials that the fire department shared can be found here, under Emergency Preparedness.


Finally, more information can be found at https://www.woodsidefire.org/.