Oakland’s 3rd Firewise USA® recognized site is Skyline Blvd! The (NFPA) Firewise USA® recognition program was designed to help residents learn about wildfire risks and provide a self-directed, collaborative framework for neighbors to work together to reduce these risks by engaging in fuel reduction and home hardening activities.
The neighborhood boundary for the new site is Skyline Blvd. between Hansom Drive and Parkridge Drive, both north and southbound including the cul-de-sacs and the City Stables, and includes 65 homes. Most homes in the Skyline Blvd. area have deep and/or sloped lots of more than 1 acre often not visible from the street. This area is bordered by two East Bay Regional Parks (EBRPD): Anthony Chabot to the east and Leona Canyon to the west. All homes in the Skyline Blvd. boundary are in the Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone and receive yearly vegetation inspections from the Oakland Fire Department. The proximity of the neighborhood to the East Bay Regional Park boundary necessitated forging a relationship with EBRPD’s fire department and learning about their fuel management plans for the vegetation close to the property lines.
The recognition process began with an assessment protocol, which is a tool from NFPA that helps residents understand their wildfire risk and prioritize risk reduction efforts. The assessment tool gave the assessment team a framework that guided us in looking at and evaluating homes and landscapes for wildfire risks in a systematic way. The assessment focused on vulnerability of homes and the surrounding home ignition zones to embers. This effort was organized and led by resident lead Tonia Hsieh and Oakland Firesafe Council Firewise lead, Joelle Fraser. Rounding out the assessment team were Oakland Fire Department Vegetation inspectors, Anthony Polk and Vegetation Inspection Supervisor Adam Ball, as well as six residents.
A 3-year action plan was created by the assessment team based on the findings in the risk assessment and focused on opportunities for improvement in the three home ignition zones. The 3-year action plan document for California is divided into areas of emphasis: Education and outreach, home hardening, fuel reduction, and evacuation planning and wildfire preparedness. The Skyline Blvd. action plan was prioritized to be education and outreach heavy in the first year, placing bigger ticket items in need of repair in the second year, and concentrating on maintenance and planning for the next iteration of the action plan in the third year.
We submitted the application for Firewise USA® recognition and were approved in September, 2023. The neighborhood is eager to begin their action plan activities and share their successes with the larger community. Congratulations to the new Skyline Blvd. Firewise USA® community!
~ Joelle Fraser, Oakland Firesafe Council, Firewise Lead