The routine services that the Fire Prevention Division staff provides to the community are typically related to: hazardous materials incidents response, emergency scene management, fire investigations and code enforcement within the unincorporated areas of the county and within the areas of contract agencies.
Hazardous Materials Incidents Response
The Sonoma County Department of Emergency Services assumes one of the lead agency roles in protecting the community from risks associated with storage, use, and transportation of hazardous materials. The full-time fire prevention staff takes part in an on-call rotation and provides primary response to hazardous materials incidents within all of the unincorporated area of the county, as well as some incorporated areas.
Emergency Scene Management
An incident management system must be provided to form the basic structure of all emergency operations regardless of the scale of the emergency. An effective incident management system must be utilized to manage incidents of different types, including structure fires, wildland fires, hazardous materials incidents, emergency medical operations, and other types of emergencies that might be handled by the department.
The full-time fire prevention staff (including the Fire Marshal) takes part in an on-call rotation and provides emergency scene management at all but the most routine emergencies within the County Service Area-40.
All fires must be investigated to determine the origin and cause of the fire. If the fire is determined to be incendiary or suspicious, a full investigation must be initiated. The fire prevention staff is responsible for determining the cause and origin of fires within the County Service Area-40. Staff may also be called upon to assist other fire agencies with fire investigations as part of a countywide agreement. Fire prevention staff members also provide fire investigation assistance to the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department when requested.
The Fire Prevention Division is responsible for the adoption and enforcement of the Sonoma County Fire Safety Ordinance, as well as enforcement of other fire safety regulations. The Fire Prevention Division strives to examine areas within County Service Area-40, and within Fire Protection Districts (through contract with the Fire Prevention Division) in which a significant fire problem could develop. Personnel inspect real property with an emphasis on those occupancies subject to a high level of hazard to life and property.
The Hazardous Materials (HazMat) Division has the responsibility for the County's Certified Unified Program Agency (CUPA) Programs.
Portions of the California Fire Code which address hazardous materials are also enforced by this Division. Inspections of businesses in the County which are included in any of these programs are conducted on a routine basis, and our Division often works in conjunction with the County’s Environmental Health Department, Permit and Resource Management Department (PRMD), as well as local fire departments. Funding for this Division is provided through fees charged to the businesses which are regulated by the County under these CUPA programs. There are approximately 1400 businesses covered by one or more of the CUPA programs. Information regarding hazardous materials in your community can be obtained from this Division.
There are three other CUPA agencies in Sonoma County which regulate facilities in their communities: Santa Rosa Fire Department, Petaluma Fire Department and Healdsburg Fire Department, which regulates facilities within Sebastopol and Healdsburg through a Joint Powers Agreement. If you have questions regarding facilities within any of those cities, contact the appropriate fire department.
For new construction projects, enforcement of the fire code is concurrent with enforcement of the building code, beginning when an application for a building permit is received, and concluding with a final occupancy approval.
Enforcement of the fire code is conducted by fire prevention staff in cooperation with building and community development (Permit and Resource Management Department) staff, and local fire agency representatives (when applicable - i.e. within fire protection districts) and involves the following typical activities:
- Pre-construction meetings
- Customer Service Counter staffing
- Fire Code Plan Review – new buildings/projects, environmental impact reports, subdivision applications, etc.
- Field inspections related to new projects - access inspections, fire protection system inspections, vegetation management plans, etc
- Vegetation Management Plan development
- Inspections of Licensed Care Facilities upon request from California Dept. of Social Services
- Annual and tri-annual occupancy inspections – mandated, routine and contract.
- Parking citations where fire department access is compromised
- Special event permit review and inspections – including Infineon Raceway
- Citizen complaint follow-ups – including vegetation management (“weeds”)
- Code enforcement following a Notice & Order
- Other projects and duties as assigned