Wear sturdy shoes (steel toes and shanks are recommended) and clothing
Hazardous chemicals and conditions may be present
Inspect propane tanks for visible damage before turning on
Covering clothing is recommended, when in proximity to ash. Wear gloves, long-sleeved shirts, and long pants to avoid skin contact, whenever possible. Goggles are recommended. Contact with wet ash may cause chemical burns or irritation on skin. Change your shoes and clothing prior to leaving the decontamination site, to avoid tracking ash into your car, home, etc.
Anything in contact with ash should be sanitized and cleaned. Sorting through/cleaning burn debris is not recommended.
Be aware of slip, trip, fall and puncture hazards.
Do not use leaf blowers or do any activities that will put ash into the air.
Double bag debris and ash in plastic bags or other containers. Be sure to seal all bags or containers to prevent ash from being redistributed in the environment by wind or rain.
Wear a close fitting respirator mask that is rated N-95 or P-100 to block particles from ash or smoke from being inhaled. N-95 respirators are well-fitted when they do not come into contact with facial hair; strap tension is adequate, not overly tightened; and masks fit across the nose bridge. A tight seal would not be possible for most children, even with a small adult-size model. People with heart or lung disease should consult their physician before using a respirator during post-fire cleanup.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is the only agency that certifies respirators to determine that they adequately protect people. Look for NIOSH approval on the package or label.
It is important to understand the risk to your safety and health even after the fire is out. The soot and dirty water left behind may contain things that could make you sick. Be very careful if you touch any fire-damaged items. Ask the advice of the fire department, local building officials, your insurance agent, and restoration specialists before starting to clean or make repairs. Do not eat, drink, or breathe in anything that has been near the flames, smoke soot, or water used to put the fire out.
Fire ash may be irritating to the skin, nose, and throat, and may cause coughing and/or nose bleeds. Fine particles can be inhaled deeply into lungs and may aggravate asthma and make it difficult to breathe. If the ash contains asbestos, nickel, arsenic or cadmium, then exposure is a particular concern because these substances can cause cancer. Because the substances in the ash vary, it is always best to be cautious.
People with asthma or other lung diseases, pregnant women, and the elderly or very young should exercise special caution because they may be more susceptible to health effects from the ash.
Do not allow children to play in ash. Wash and clean all children’s toys carefully after possible contamination. Children should not be in the vicinity while cleanup is in progress. Even if care is exercised, it is easy to stir up ash that may contain hazardous substances. In addition, the exploratory behavior of children may result in direct contact with contaminated materials.
Clean ash off house pets and other domesticated animals if they have been in contaminated areas. However, it is best to not allow pets in these areas due to the potential risk to their health and their ability to spread outside of contaminated areas.
Frequently clean indoor surfaces and follow by wet mopping to reduce exposure to ash indoors.
Use only high efficiency particulate air (HEPA-filter) vacuum cleaners. Shop vacuums and other common vacuum cleaners do not filter out small particles, but instead can put particles back into the air where they can be inhaled.
The following guidelines are recommended for the maintenance of pools impacted by smoke and ash contamination or fire damage. Do not allow use of the pool until the following steps have been completed:
Clean skimmer baskets of debris and skim water surface of pool with pool net to remove floating debris.
Brush sides and bottom of pool to loosen contaminants. Vacuum pool.
Backwash and clean filter, discharging waste to municipal sanitary sewer only. If connected to a septic tank system, discharge the backwash to a pervious surface (gravel, lawn, open space) to allow for infiltration without erosion. Backwash to the storm drain system (alleys, driveways, streets, storm drains) and creeks is prohibited by law.
Check pH and adjust to between 7.2 and 7.8.
Check free chlorine level and adjust to minimum of 2.0 ppm.
Ensure the recirculation system is operating properly by checking filter pressure and/or flow meter.
Reopen pool to bathers when pH levels between 7.2 and 7.8 and free chlorine is at least 2.0 ppm and not more than 10 ppm.
Due to the amount of smoke and ash in the air, these steps may need to be repeated after cleaning the filters.
Alternatively, a swimming pool service company may be contracted to clean the pool. Check for their business license and experience in servicing pools. Pool service operators likewise are prohibited from discharging backwash to the storm drain system.
Deck Cleaning: Do not hose down the deck to storm drains. You may spray water lightly to minimize dust and ashes from becoming airborne, then use a stiff brush or broom to sweep up small amounts of ash and debris. A mop and bucket could also be used for cleanup. Large amounts of ash and debris may need to be cleaned by a professional hazardous material cleanup service.
Draining Pools: Draining of pools is not recommended. If you must drain the pool, contact the sanitation agency of your local jurisdiction for guidance. Never empty swimming pool water and/or chemicals to the storm drain. They must be drained to the sanitary sewer. Within the City of Santa Rosa call Environmental Compliance at (707) 543-3369. For unincorporated areas call the Sonoma County Water Agency, Environmental Services at (707) 521-1820 or (707) 547-1078.
Mosquito Breeding: Pools with standing water could breed mosquitoes. Please call Marin and Sonoma County Vector Control at 800-231-3236 to have staff come and stock the pool with mosquito-eating fish until the power and pool recirculation system are restored.
Damaged Pool, Enclosure or Recirculation System: For pools that have had damage to the recirculation system, the pool enclosure, or the pool shell, contact a pool professional for evaluation.
General of air quality is currently being conducted by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD). Air monitoring related to environmental cleanup of fire-related disaster debris will be conducted by USACE. More information is available at https://monitoring.airfire.org
Wildfire smoke and cleanup presents hazards that employers and workers in affected regions must understand. Smoke from wildfires contains chemicals, gases and fine particles that can harm health. Hazards continue even after fires have been extinguished and cleanup work begins. Proper protective equipment and training is required for worker safety in wildfire regions.
If your site will require private debris removal in addition to what is covered under the USACE Phase II, you can use your debris insurance proceeds to cover those costs, and will only be expected to assign the remainder to reimburse the Program. If you do not have insurance the Program will be provided at no cost.
The Sonoma County Consolidated Fire Debris Removal Program (Program) has two phases: removal of household hazardous waste and removal of other fire-related debris.
Phase I: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently inspecting all fire-damaged properties and removing Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) that may pose a threat to human health, animals, and the environment such as batteries, propane tanks, and paints. Phase I is being conducted at no cost to property owners and is required for all residential properties. It consists of air monitoring for worker safety and visual observations to identify locations of HHW and other hazardous materials and containers. Once properties are surveyed, HHW collection teams will remove the materials identified during the survey. HHW includes leftover household products that can catch fire, react, or explode under certain circumstances, or that are corrosive or toxic. Products such as paints, cleaners, oils, batteries, and pesticides can contain hazardous ingredients and require special handling and disposal.
Phase II: The Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and local officials are coordinating with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to conduct fire-related debris removal from your property. This will include removal of all burnt debris, including appliances, electronics, foundations, trees that are a safety risk to contractors, and some soil to ensure the site is clean and safe for building.
Property owners sign up by completing a Right – of – Entry Permit (ROE) form, and providing insurance information if applicable. The ROE and insurance documents must be submitted to the County of Sonoma Department of Health Services – Environmental Health in person at 625 5th Street, Santa Rosa CA 95404, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or by fax at (707) – 565 – 6525. The ROE form can be obtained online here or the ROE Processing Center located at 625 5th Street, Santa Rosa CA 95404.
Phase I of the Program is required for all residential properties. All properties are required to timely remove the hazardous debris fields. Phase II debris removal by USACE is optional, however, properties are required to timely remove the hazardous debris fields and deadlines will be set by the City and County. Removal by private contractor is authorized but will be done at the homeowner’s expense and work done must meet or exceed the standards set by local, state and federal agencies. This includes compliance with all legal requirements for handling, disposal at authorized disposal sites, soil sampling, and transportation. In addition, best management practices must be utilized along with work activity documentation, and erosion control. Phase I of the Program is being conducted at no cost to property owners.
Ash or debris cannot be removed prior to the completion of Phase I because of hazardous waste and public health hazards. The Phase II portion of the Program is being offered to provide property owners safe and comprehensive debris removal using specialized contractors managed by the Army Corp s of Engineers (Corps). Property owners that choose not to participate in this program will be given additional guidance on city and county permitting shortly, and cannot begin private ash and debris removal prior to standards being approved. Property owne rs performing private debris removal activities must do so in accordance with city and county guidance at their own expense. This includes compliance with all legal requirements for disposal, authorized disposal sites, best management practices for activit ies on site, proper transportation and documentation of waste, and erosion control.
The overall project is scheduled to be completed by early 2018. Phasing of clean-up will be decided after the ROE form submittal deadline and will be based, in part, on concentration of participating properties.
Phase I is complete; EPA posted a sign on each property when the HHW removal was complete. Phase II is in process. USACE employees will be contacting homeowners via phone to provide notice of work start times. The USACE contractor is required to provide USACE a formal report of completion. USACE will provide those reports to the county and county will notify property owner.
Phase I of the Program is being conducted at no cost to property owners. If you choose to participate in Phase II of the Program, there is no cost to the property owner, and removal will be completed in compliance with all local, state and federal laws. If you had insurance in effect at the time of the wildfire that provides coverage for debris removal, it is required that those funds, not used for rebuilding, go toward reimbursement of Program costs. In most cases, the cost of debris removal will be greater than the insurance available. Reimbursement amount will not exceed the costs of debris removal on your specific property. If coverage for debris removal is not a separate insurance category, any reimbursement for debris removal will be limited to the unused benefit amount (if any) in that coverage category after the residence is rebuilt. If the full amount of general coverage is used for rebuilding, you will not be responsible for any reimbursement. If you participate in Phase II of the program, we recommend that you consult with your insurance carrier to confirm how much is dedicated to debris removal. If your site will require private debris removal in addition to what is covered under the USACE Phase II, you can use your debris insurance proceeds to cover those costs, and will only be expected to assign the remainder to reimburse the Program. If you do not have insurance the Program will be provided at no cost.
To expedite recovery, state and federal partners will coordinate closely with the County of Sonoma and City of Santa Rosa to remove fire debris from single-family residential lots and public facilities.
Owners are not required to be present for either phase of this process. The safety of the general public and workers is a priority during debris operations. To prevent safety hazards, the public is encouraged to stay away from areas where debris removal operations are underway. Exclusion zones will be established surrounding the current work area to ensure the safety of the public.
There will be several teams of staff and numerous pieces of heavy equipment along with transport trucks for hauling equipment and waste. Many of these trucks will be parked along roads during the cleanup. These crews will create a good deal of noise, but the time periods will abide by the Sonoma County noise ordinance. There will be water trucks providing dust control and workers cleaning up after trucks hauling debris.
Phase II will include debris and ash removal related to any structures on your residential property that are at least 120 square feet and destroyed. Driveways will be retained as much as possible both for possible reuse and also to serve as a staging area for debris removal and rebuilding equipment.
Foundation removal will be included. The decision to include foundation removal on all sites was based on prior damage assessments from similar disasters. Testing following previous fires has confirmed that most foundations were not structurally safe, and that contamination leached into the soil underneath foundations that cannot be addressed without foundation removal. Even if your foundation has been determined to be structurally sound, there is a risk of exposure to toxins if you choose not to remove it. If you want to keep your foundation, you are not eligible for Phase II of the Program, and you will be required to meet approved standards to ensure the structural integrity of your foundation.
Foundation piers will not be removed. The contractor will make every effort to minimize damage done to piers during stem wall and foundation removal.
Pools will generally not be removed under the Program. In rare circumstances, such as indoor pools, they will need to be removed as part of the residential clean-up.
Generally, retaining walls will not be removed.
Generally, in Phase II trees will not be removed. However, USACE will be removing any trees that either impede their work or present a hazard to their crews.
As an alternative to the federally assisted debris removal program, a homeowner can take on the costs of debris removal themselves and hire a properly licensed contractor. All work must be completed pursuant to requirements set by the city and the county. You may not do the work yourself unless you have the required certification/license. No state or federal funds will be available outside of the Program. It is recommended that you consult with your insurance company prior to any clean-up activity.
Household hazardous waste must be removed without delay to protect the public health and safety. Additionally, hazardous waste could have significant long-term environmental impacts and should not be combined with the waste from the general clean-up that is going to the landfill. Removal of hazardous waste from the fire debris prevents these environmental contaminants from polluting the environment, and protects the workers and the public from exposure during debris removal efforts. The crews that conduct removal are specifically certified to handle household hazardous waste.
Teams handling hazardous waste will not remove appliances or electronic wastes, such as TV and computer monitors, computers processing units or cell phones. These materials will be removed as part of Phase II.
Generally, no. If the insurance proceeds you received did not include a specified amount for debris removal you will not be responsible for any costs associated with the debris removal. For more information, contact the Department of Insurance.
No, the wording in the ROE form is required by California and Federal law and therefore, the terms cannot be changed. We understand that there are many questions related to this form, and we will provide responses through the frequently asked questions document.
You should include on your ROE information regarding the location of any wells, septic systems, ponds, pools, leach fields, water lines, or other structures on your property so contractors are aware of their locations. These items can be identified on the blank last page of the ROE, or by attaching plans, drawings, etc.
A fire in a home can cause serious damage. The building and many of the things in your home may have been badly damaged by flames, heat, smoke and water. Please read these safety precautions.
If you are preparing to return to an area under evacuation, make sure you have ID.
If you don’t have an ID, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. issued emergency proclamations authorizing fee and/or penalty waivers for victims of wildfires in nine counties, allowing them to replace at no cost the following items if damaged due to the fires: duplicate driver licenses, identification cards, vehicle registration and title, and disabled person parking placards. In addition, fire victims can acquire substitute license plates and stickers, vehicle disposal paperwork, and driver record printouts, as well as process a change of address. For more information visit the DMV website.
Here are some other options for replacing lost ID:
The California Department of Motor Vehicles is offering limited services to residents affected by the wildfires raging across the state. Fire victims who need to replace lost or damaged DMV-related documents can do so free of charge at recovery centers in the impacted areas. The DMV is one of several state and federal agencies working together to provide services to fire victims.
Sifting through your property will NOT jeopardize your claims for disaster assistance. Property owners who desire to search debris for possible salvageable valuables or mementos should do so with caution and with proper protective gear: eye protection, masks, gloves, long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and protective footwear. Residents should minimize contact with fire debris, which may contain materials that can be hazardous to your health. For more information click here.
Sites will be left in an environmentally safe condition with erosion control measures in place ready for property owners to begin the rebuilding process. Some grading may be necessary to meet building site specifications.
Once the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) receives the soil testing results, they will evaluate if all levels are within the set limits and/or baseline values. If the results fall within those limits, the property will be cleared and the County will be notified by a letter that includes the property’s soil testing results.
Once the USACE notice is received by the County, the information is entered into our system and a robotic call will be made to the property owner. Our goal is to have this happen within 1-2 business days. Following the call, the property owner will be notified via a mailed letter which includes the USACE soil testing data. The property owner can bring the letter with them to the City of Santa Rosa Permit Resiliency Center or Permit Sonoma to begin the rebuilding process.
We recommend that you consult with a professional land surveyor/engineer to get an accurate determination of where your legal property lines are. Additional information may be included in your deed and in Assessor’s maps.
Submit Certification of Completed Work
After implementation of the approved Work Plan, the owner must submit a certification showing that all work has been completed as specified. The work must be completed pursuant to standards set forth by the City and or County and the State. Documentation of adequate clean-up and proper disposal will be required. Property owners will not be allowed to build on their property until there is a certification that the property cleanup and removal of all hazardous waste has been completed in accordance with applicable standards and approved by the City and or County.
If you are in the government sponsored Debris Removal Program and intend to sell your property then you and the proposed buyer need to execute a Consolidated Debris Removal Program Affidavit form. Signed copies must be returned to Environmental Health. If the affidavit is not fully executed the property will be removed from the Debris Removal Program and it will be the owner’s responsibility to remove the debris.
No. Property owners will retain their previous factored base year value if the house is rebuilt in a like or similar manner, regardless of the actual cost of construction. However, any new square footage or extras, such as additional baths, will be added to the Proposition 13 factored base year value at its full market value.