Update on Fire Preparedness and Prevention Initiatives

January 29, 2019

Following the 2017 Sonoma/Napa conflagrations, which have now been eclipsed by the mega-fires in Shasta and Butte Counties, the Mill Valley Fire Department has been actively evaluating/implementing programs and processes to ensure our lowest overall community risk possible. Our evaluation has concluded that many City of Mill Valley processes are in alignment with, and ahead of, industry best practices as well as identified several gap areas needing attention. The result has been the development of six Fire Prevention Initiatives endorsed by the City Council on February 5th, 2018.

The following is a list of these initiatives and an update on their status.

Fire Preparedness and Prevention Overview and Recommendations.

Initiative 1 - Building Codes, Standards, and Structural Ignitability: Improve building codes and standards for the built environment.

Status: Project completed. April 16, 2018 Staff Report

Initiative 2 - Hazardous Fuel Reduction: Reduction of fuels within the first 3' of the structure and within 3' to 30'. This will include Junipers (genus Juniperus), Bamboo, Acacia and Italian Cypress.

Status: Under consideration by City Council. Community meeting planned for late March. First Reading of Ordinance September 6, 2018

Initiative 3 - Access and Evacuation Concepts: Reduction of hazardous fuels along primary and secondary evacuation routes to facilitate a safe egress. Access projects at Marion/Hazel, Hazel/Rose and Lee/Quarry to enhance emergency response and egress. 

Status: Being designed and in progress. City Council increased the vegetation management budget by 67% to facilitate the removal of substantially more vegetation along primary and secondary access and evacuation routes. Additional information on access projects.

Initiative 4 - Public Education: Community Education by way of community meetings, 55 mailings, classes and events such as the Mill Valley Campout.

Status: In progress. City Council recently approved hiring Battalion Chief Michael St. John to conduct public education/outreach
and inspection/compliance
Additional resources.

Initiative 5 - Communications: Currently, the City of Mill Valley has a number of methods available to reach the affected community in an emergency. These methods include Alert Marin, reverse 911, Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA), neighborhood sirens, Facebook, Nixie, Twitter, email and City News web postings. We use the appropriate methods to notify residents of an actual emergency or provide information about an escalating situation such as Red Flag Warnings. During the Tubbs/Nuns fires, a gap was identified due to the destruction of infrastructure such as cellular 64 towers causing communication delays.

Status: In progress. On January 24, 2019, the City Council approved a budget adjustment and authorized the City Manager to purchase and install a Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) system in Mill Valley. This will be the first land-based LRAD system in Marin County. Staff ReportAdditional information.


The LRAD was tested in Mill Valley in the summer of 2018.

Initiative 6 – Staff TrainingCurrently, staff training specific to working in the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) occurs approximately 2 times a year. Specialized training is attended throughout the year such as training specific to the Plans Section Chief or Logistics, both functions found within the EOC. 

Status:In progress.

Questions? Learn more about fire preparedness and prevention.