It’s fire season, folks. Have you cleared your defensible space?

Grassfire coming dangerously close to a home in Pittsburg ilast year. (Photo courtesy Contra Costa County Fire Dept.)

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA (May 23, 2023) — Our lush, beautiful hillsides will turn brown in a month or so, and all the beautiful greenery will become dry. The change in the hillsides marks the telltale signs of fire season.

Every property owner and homeowner has a responsibility to prepare their property for fire season. Much like Smokey Bear says, “Only you can prevent wildfires.” And that includes slowing down fires, too. There are two important steps you can take – weed abatement and creating defensible space on your property.

The California Fire Code considers “weeds” to be all wild plants growing on streets or private property. These include sagebrush, chaparral, dry grass, brush or other flammable materials capable of being ignited and endangering public safety by creating a fire hazard.

For parcels less than 5 acres, all weeds must have a height of no more than 3 inches. Starting on June 4, Contra Costa Fire Protection District’s (ConFire) Fire Prevention Bureau will have the ability to cite owners of properties that are out of compliance.

Defensible space is an area around a building or structure in which vegetation, debris and other types of combustible fuels have been treated, cleared or reduced to slow the spread of fire to and from the building.

ConFire provides some tools and programs that that can assist you in preparation for fire season. Please visit to find tips and information like a defensible space guidebook. You’ll also find an equipment safety flier for when you are working on your property.

Wildfire Mitigation program

ConFire, in partnership with the Crockett Carquinez, El Cerrito, Kensington, Moraga Orinda, Pinole, Richmond, Rodeo-Hercules and San Ramon Valley fire departments, is launching the Contra Costa County Wildfire Mitigation Program. ConFire is managing this innovative program that offers Contra Costa residents the opportunity to work together to complete a neighborhood project that will reduce the wildfire risks. This program gets funding through the county’s half-cent sales tax, Measure X. It offers financial assistance for larger projects.

First, find a few neighbors to combine efforts in preparing your properties for fire season. Identify the best project that can benefit everyone. Visit to check out what types of community projects may qualify. Examples include a community chipping day, removal of dead trees or vegetation management.

Once you identify a project, reach out to your local fire district. The district will evaluate the project and provide guidance. Then apply for the program at

The Wildfire Mitigation Program will evaluate and rank all projects. The program aims to select projects across the county.
Let’s work together to make everyone a little safer this fire season.

If you have questions about the Wildfire Mitigation Program or other ConFire programs, please reach out to my office for assistance at 925-655-2350.

Ken Carlson is Contra Costa County District IV supervisor. Email questions or comments to Carlson at or call his office at 925-655-2350.