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Fire Access Road Impact Minimization

 
Posts: 2
Location: Middletown, Ca
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Our property is large (150 acres) and steep as heck (mostly 50-90%/25-40° with a little bit that gets as flat as 10%/6° and some as steep as 100%/45°). Where to locate our zones 0 & 1 is pretty much dictated by the landscape to a central section which is both the flattest area and the best protected from wildfire (we're in Northern CA and our land already burned once in 2015 so this is a high priority!). Unfortunately, pretty much the only way to get a fire access road to this location is to wind it through a fair bit of the rest of our land (topography requires switchbacks) and bridge it over a creek... That's a lot of tarmac with a traditionally surfaced road or even a lot of bare gravel for a dirt one.

So, I'm wondering how other permies have handled fire access roads. Given it would pretty much only ever be used by a fire truck (which is to say it would hopefully never be used), I'm wondering if there is a way to give it a "green" surface similar to the footpaths that have paving stones interspersed with herbs between them. Has anyone gotten this approved?

Alternatively, does anyone have experience with getting exemptions for fire access roads? As previously mentioned, fire prevention is a high priority for us, however, this primarily refers to wildfires which the fire department won't be driving onto our property to fight anyway (too high a risk of getting trapped). All buildings are already being designed to resist wildfires (adobe and other fire resistant building materials, etc.) and residential fires should be very low risk as the homes are basically just bedrooms with the highest risk activities (eg. cooking) done in a communal building (with sprinklers). Even if we could just have the road go to the communal building and not also have to pass within 150' of all buildings (per code) that would really help. It seems like there are a lot of permaculture communities that don't have giant roads going to all their buildings, have all of these built without permits or have some gone the legal way and gotten exemptions?

Thanks so much for any help!

 
Posts: 21
Location: West-central Pennsylvania
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Me, myself and I, (that makes it pusillanimous) would contact the area fire dept and give them your proposal, then ask them for advice. They may have a surveyor they sponsor, recommend or even hire who would scope out your property and give you the best route to make.
 
Sophie Tendai
Posts: 2
Location: Middletown, Ca
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Blaine Clark wrote:Me, myself and I, (that makes it pusillanimous) would contact the area fire dept and give them your proposal, then ask them for advice. They may have a surveyor they sponsor, recommend or even hire who would scope out your property and give you the best route to make.



Good idea. We had received a recommendation not to ask the local planning department for advice as apparently they get annoyed with people who come to them before they have a fairly finalized plan (and the last thing we want is to get on their bad side before we put in our application!). Hadn't thought of going directly to the fire department. The planning folks will still have the last say on what's acceptable, but having a plan that the fire department approve of should really help with that (particularly if they can point us toward a surveyor to help us work out the details). Thanks!
 
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