Equipment Use Safety

Are you doing the right thing, the wrong way?

brush clearing
Make sure you are creating defensible space in a responsible manner.

Are you doing the right thing the wrong way? For example: are you trying to eliminate the fire hazards around your home and in the process starting a wildland fire? Each year CAL FIRE responds to more than 1,600 fires started by Californians using equip­ment the wrong way.

Whether working to create a defensible space around your home, just mowing the lawn, or pulling your dirt bike over to the side of the road, if you live in a wildland area you need to use all equipment responsibly. Lawnmowers, weedeaters, chain saws, grinders, welders, tractors, and trimmers can all spark a wildland fire. Do your part, the right way, to keep your community fire safe.

Here’s how to do it the Right Way:

  • Do all yard maintenance that requires a gas or electric motor before 10 a.m. Not in the heat of the day, or when the wind is blowing!
  • Lawnmowers are designed to mow lawns. Never use lawn mowers in dry vegetation.
  • Use a weed trimmer to cut down dry weeds and grass.
  • Remove rocks in the area before you begin operating any equipment. A rock hidden in grass or weeds is enough to start a fire when struck by a metal blade.
  • In wildland areas, spark arresters are required on all portable gasoline-powered equipment including tractors, harvesters, chain saws, weedeaters, mowers, motorcycles, and All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs).
  • Keep the exhaust system, spark arresters, and mower in proper working order and free of carbon buildup. Use the recommended grade of fuel and don’t top off.
  • Keep the engine free of oil and dust, and keep the mower free of flammable materials.
  • In wildland areas, a permit may be required for grinding and welding operations, and spark shields may be required on equipment. Be sure to have 10 feet of clearance, a 46″round point shovel, and a backpump water-type fire extinguisher ready to use.
  • Hot exhaust pipes and mufflers can start fires you won’t even see until it’s too late! Don’t pull off into dry grass or brush.
  • Keep a cell phone nearby and call 911 immediately in case of a fire