CA Assembly Bill 38 (AB-38) – Defensible Space Inspections
CA Assembly Bill 38 (AB-38) – Defensible Space Inspections
AB-38 Defensible Space Inspections and Compliance Reports for Real Estate Transactions in High or Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone.
On and after July 1, 2021, when you sell a property that is located in a High or Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone (FHSZ), you will need documentation of a compliant Defensible Space Inspection (DSI). Please note that the AB-38 provisions are for real estate transactions disclosure and documentation only.
To request an AB-38 DSI inspection, please follow the link below:
Looking for someone to help with Fire Hazard Reduction Compliance?
Find answers to your fire hazard reduction questions here.
The Kern County Fire Hazard Reduction Program (FHRP) is a joint effort between the Kern County Fire Department, Cal Fire, Kern County Code Enforcement, and property owners to ensure fire-safe communities within the county.
The program is currently administered and enforced by fire department personnel following Kern County Ordinance Code 8.46, and in accordance with other State and Federal guidelines.
Our goal is to provide sufficient defensible space around homes and other structures to improve the safety of the public and emergency personnel, as well as, increase the chance of your home’s survival in the event of fires. Having heavy accumulations of fuel, and/or dry fuel poses a significant risk to your property, neighboring properties, and fire personnel.
While inspections are typically done once a year after June 1 in preparation for fire season, a property can receive an inspection at any time if it is deemed to be a hazard. Property owners are expected to keep their properties clear of fire hazards year-round.
Property owners who fall within the required guidelines are expected to maintain their property free of fire hazards and accumulated vegetation growth throughout the year. June 1 is the deadline for completion of this clearance prior to annual inspections. All structures on the property, regardless of construction type or use, are required to have a minimum of thirty (30) feet of clearance and one hundred (100) feet of fuel reduction, or to the property line if closer. Any vegetation within these zones should be green, ornamental trees, grass and shrubs only, and should be spaced out and have sufficient ground clearance to discourage fire spread. For vacant properties with no structures, you are required to provide a minimum ten (10) foot fuel break along all property lines that lie within one hundred (100) feet of any structures on neighboring properties.
For further information on specific guidelines and expectations, please see Defensible Space Guidelines or click one of the links below.
Properties that typically fall within the FHRP guidelines and subject to the June 1 inspection deadline are those within the State Responsibility Area (SRA) in and around the mountain communities, however all properties within the county are subject to the Kern County Ordinance Code 8.46. To find out if your property falls within the SRA you can contact either the FHRP office at (661)823-1001, the Kern County Assessor’s Office at (661) 868-3485, or click here for an interactive map https://bof.fire.ca.gov/projects-and-programs/state-responsibility-area-viewer/.
If you own vacant property with no structures, there is a possibility you won’t need to do anything. If there are any structures on neighboring properties within one hundred (100) feet of any property line, you are required to provide a minimum ten (10) feet of clearance along all property lines that are adjacent to those structures. This clearance includes full removal of all grass and shrubs within that ten (10) feet and limbing up all trees and large bushes to avoid ground contact. Six (6) feet is a general rule of thumb for limbing of the trees.
When properties are inspected by the local station personnel, they only take note of the properties that are found to be in violation. Those property owners will then receive a citation in the mail giving them 15 days to correct the violations to avoid being assessed a fine. Properties that pass inspection will not be notified, so no news is good news.
While we would like to provide this service at some point in the future, at this time the Kern County Fire Department does not have the capability to conduct fire hazard abatement on cited properties. If you are fined, it is your responsibility to ensure the required corrections are made on the property and notify us when it is complete. If this is done within 15 days from the citation mailing date, your fine will be removed.
While some HOA’s provide services to clear lots for property owners, ultimate responsibility falls to the property owner to ensure their lots are cleared correctly. Notification Letters and administrative citations are sent to the property owners, not the HOA, so if clearance is needed on the property it is your responsibility to make arrangements for its completion. We do make an effort to notify HOA’s and other property management companies of the clearance expectations to keep them informed.
Money collected from fees from the program are used by the department to support various fuel reduction projects around the county, i.e. fire road maintenance, fuel breaks, and hazard tree removal.
While we understand that there are certain circumstances that make it difficult for homeowners to complete the clearances, we cannot allow hazards to remain that put your property and the community at risk. The financial burden of clearing your property is much less than having to replace it. If you are unable to complete the required clearances due to physical ailments or financial constraints, there are programs available in certain areas to assist you. If you contact your local area Fire Safe Council they should have the most current information on these programs.
While no official extensions are given on the deadline, you are given a 15 day “grace period” from the mailing date on the citation to complete the work and submit proof to have the citation removed.
Click on any of the links below for further information on Defensible Space Guidelines, fire-wise landscaping, or program requirements.
KCFD Defensible Space Guidelines: Guidelines List
KCFD FHRP Vendor List: KCFD FHRP Vendor List
Cal Fire Resources: www.readyforwildfire.org
Interactive SRA Map: https://bof.fire.ca.gov/projects-and-programs/state-responsibility-area-viewer/
Complaints received by the Code Compliance Unit regarding weeds in the county serviced urbanized areas of Bakersfield will be investigated by Code Compliance.
Complaints received by the Code Compliance Unit regarding weeds in the outlying areas will be referred to the Fire Department for investigation.
SEE MAP FOR AREA OF RESPONSIBILITY AND CONTACT INFORMATION (click to see the Weed Control Map)
Defensible space, coupled with home hardening, is essential to improve your home’s chance of surviving a wildfire. Defensible space is the buffer you create between a building on your property and the grass, trees, shrubs, or any wildland area that surround it.
This space is needed to slow or stop the spread of wildfire and it helps protect your home from catching fire—either from embers, direct flame contact or radiant heat. Proper defensible space also provides firefighters a safe area to work in, to defend your home.