San Mateo County Hazards | California State Fire Severity Zones
Government Code 51175-89 directs the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) to identify areas of very high fire hazard severity zones within Local Responsibility Areas (LRA). Mapping of the areas, referred to as Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zones (VHFHSZ), is based on data and models of, potential fuels over a 30-50 year time horizon and their associated expected fire behavior, and expected burn probabilities to quantify the likelihood and nature of vegetation fire exposure (including firebrands) to buildings. Details on the project and specific modeling methodology can be found at http://frap.fire.ca.gov/projects/hazard/fhz.html. Local Responsibility Area VHFHSZ maps were initially developed in the mid-1990s and are now being updated based on improved science, mapping techniques, and data.
In late 2005 to be effective in 2008, the California Building Commission adopted California Building Code Chapter 7A requiring new buildings in VH FHSZs to use ignition resistant construction methods and materials. These new codes include provisions to improve the ignition resistance of buildings, especially from firebrands. The updated very high fire hazard severity zones will be used by building officials for new building permits in LRA. The updated zones will also be used to identify property whose owners must comply with natural hazards disclosure requirements at time of property sale and 100 foot defensible space clearance. It is likely that the fire hazard severity zones will be used for updates to the safety element of general plans.
This specific map is based on a geographic information system dataset that depicts final CAL FIRE recommendations for Very High FHSZs within the local jurisdiction. The process of finalizing these boundaries involved an extensive local review process, the details of which are available at http://frap.cdf.ca.gov/projects/hazard/btnet/ (click on "Continue as guest without logging in"). Local government has 120 days to designate, by ordinance, very high fire hazard severity zones within its jurisdiction after receiving the recommendation. Local government can add additional VHFHSZs.