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SHFPD Bulletins

SHFPD provides regular updates to Sleepy Hollow residents throught the Sleepy Hollow Homes Association (SHHA) Bulletin newsletter.  Here's an archive of past updates:

December 2019

A Message from Rich Shortall, President of the Fire Board
The recent power shutdown and the destructive Kincade Fire in neighboring Sonoma County once again remind us that we live in an area of high fire danger.   The power shutdown affected almost 100% of Marin County – most of us in Sleepy Hollow were without power for four days or more. It is very likely that we will experience many more power shutoffs in the future due to more extreme weather conditions related to climate change plus the aging and poorly maintained PG&E power grid.

Emergency Communications
The power shutdown highlighted the fact that emergency communications are poor or non-existent for most of Sleepy Hollow.  We have no cell coverage during normal conditions and those who are familiar with the technology can only access their cell phones through Wi-Fi calling.   But there must be power in our homes for 

Wi-fi and for most landlines to function.  We will address these and related communication issues more comprehensively in a future article.   

NOAA Radios
Meanwhile, the Sleepy Hollow Fire Protection District (SHFPD) is working with the Marin County Office of Emergency Services to implement a pilot program utilizing National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radios to receive the same emergency alerts during widespread public safety power shutoffs or other large scale disasters that are broadcast over the Alert Marin system.  The SHFPD has purchased desktop NOAA weather radios with battery backup for our Block Captains. We will test the radios for approximately one month to ensure that we have good coverage and that the radios are properly programmed to receive alerts. If the program is successful, we will consider purchase of a NOAA weather radio for each residence in Sleepy Hollow and distribute them through our Block Captains.   Unfortunately, the radios do not have the capability to call 911 for a medical or other emergency when our phones are down, but each residence should be able to receive emergency alerts during widespread power outages.

Portable Generators
The SHFPD has received many inquiries regarding use of portable generators.   Backup electric generators can be a part of your preparedness plan during wildfires, Public Safety Power Shutdowns, and other power loss events.  Backup electric generators operate as a stand-alone power source and are not connected to PG&E's power grid. Generators are typically powered by natural gas, propane, gasoline, or diesel fuel.  Solar systems typically do not provide power during outages, unless equipped with a battery storage system and special equipment to create a home-grid.  FIRESafe MARIN (https://www.firesafemarin.org/power) does not recommend the operation of stand-alone, gasoline-powered generators during fire weather events.  The San Francisco Chronicle (Nov. 14) published an article on generators causing fires and carbon monoxide poisoning during the power outages. Propane or natural gas powered generators are safer and less likely to spark a fire or expose residents to dangerous combustion gasses. The best option is a permanent, (professionally) installed propane or natural gas generator.  

Community Center
The power shutdown once again showed the importance of having a Preparedness Center located in the middle of our community containing emergency power, enhanced communication capability, heat, basic medical supplies and other emergency supplies such as flashlights, batteries, portable generators, hand tools, food/water, cots, etc.  How many of you would have utilized such a facility to get up-to-date information, charge your cell phones, or borrow a flashlight or battery? The Sleepy Hollow Homes Association and the Sleepy Hollow Charitable Foundation are moving forward with their plans for the Community Center Renovation project and hope to start construction in the spring.   Additional funding is still needed, so please give generously to help make our community safer.

Block Captains
The SHFPD recently held our Fall Block Captain meeting which was well attended.  There was a spirited discussion about problems and potential solutions related to emergency communications, the power shutdown, and the need to move forward with the Community Center Renovation.   If the NOAA weather radio pilot project is successful, you can expect a visit from your neighborhood Block Captain. Please support the program. We still need Block Captains for a few more areas in Sleepy Hollow.  If you can help, please contact SHFPD Director Sharon Adams at (415) 454-0420.

October 2019

ARE YOU FINANCIALLY PREPARED FOR A WILDFIRE?
In the North Bay fires of 2017, nearly 9000 homes were destroyed.  74% didn’t have enough insurance coverage.   Your home is your largest asset. Protect it.  Insurance is the critical back-up plan enabling you to rebuild your home and protect your family after a wildfire. Follow these insurance tips as part of your wildfire preparedness plan:

Tip 1: Conduct an Annual Insurance Check Up
Call your agent or insurance company annually to discuss your policy limits and coverage. Make sure your policy reflects the correct square footage and features in your home. 

  • Get an estimate of the cost of rebuilding after a wildfire from a local contractor.  In Marin, most rebuilding estimates should start at $500 per square foot or more depending on construction quality and home features. 
  • Purchase building code upgrade coverage.
  • Save money with a higher deductible, not lower coverage.
  • Don’t underestimate to save money.
  • Don’t rely on the purchase price or appraised value of your home.

Tip 2: Know What Your Policy Covers
Details matter.  Ask for a full replacement cost policy that pays to replace all your items at current market price. Ensure that valuables like jewelry, antiques, artwork, firearms and collections are covered.

Tip 3: Update Your Policy to Cover Home Improvements
If you make home improvements, be sure to call your agent to update your coverage.

Tip 4: Maintain Insurance
If your home is paid off, be sure to maintain homeowner insurance.  Without insurance, do you have the money to rebuild your home?

Tip 5: Get Renter’s Insurance
Renters are just as likely to lose everything in a fire, and are often uninsured.  Many insurers bundle renter’s insurance coverage with an auto insurance policy at affordable prices. 

Tip 6: Get 2 years of Living Expense Coverage
Get at least two years of “additional living expenses” coverage, because that’s how long it may take to rebuild after a fire.

Tip 7: If Your Policy is Cancelled, Act Quickly
If your insurance company notifies you that they will not be renewing your policy, don’t panic. Start shopping for a new policy ASAP. By law they have to give you 45-days notice, and you may need that much time to find a replacement policy you can afford. 

Tip 8: Make a Home Inventory
Use a smartphone to photograph and video your belongings.  Document the contents of your home before a fire occurs.  Keep your inventory & photos stored off-site or online in the “cloud.”

  • Video or photograph each room of your home.
  • Remember to document drawers and closets.
  • Describe your home’s contents in your video. 
  • Mention the price you paid, where and when you bought the item.
  • Remember to note important or expensive items.
  • Video your electronics, appliances, sports equipment, TVs, computers, tablets. 
  • “Schedule” valuable items with your insurer before a fire strikes!
  • Save receipts for major purchases. 
  • Store key documents and your home inventory off site or in the cloud.  “Fireproof” safes often do not survive the intense heat of a wildfire.
  • Don’t forget to inventory what’s inside your garage.

August 2019

The Marin IJ recently posted an article listing seven Marin towns that could face major traffic jams during an emergency including Sleepy Hollow and Fairfax.   FireSAFE Marin Coordinator Todd Lando has addressed several key issues raised by the story.

This article, and most of the discussion about evacuations in general, presupposes that the goal should be that we are able to rapidly evacuate entire communities without the anxiety or inconvenience of traffic. We should propose, instead, that the goal should be that everybody in our community SURVIVES a wildfire, and that evacuations are ORDERLY and without panic.  Evacuations should not ADD to the danger, but the assumption that traffic itself is deadly is wrong. Traffic is going to be part of the equation unless we opt for this article's suggestion of multiple, multi-lane freeways leading out of every small town in the Bay Area. That's not realistic and is going to bog down community efforts that will actually make a difference.  

We need to start focusing on evacuation safety rather than traffic itself. Slow moving traffic on the major thoroughfares does not necessarily contribute to dramatically greater danger. During the North Bay fires and the Camp Fire, people who stayed in their cars on pavement survived. We are not aware of anyone who died in these fires because of or in a traffic jam during these fires. The vast majority of those who died never even left their homes. And the small number who died while evacuating, by and large drove off of the road into burning vegetation, or were on isolated, unpaved rural roads where they were exposed to large amounts of heat from burning vegetation below them. Again, those who stayed on the pavement in their cars, protected from heat, smoke, and radiant energy - survived. Were they frightened and inconvenienced by the traffic they encountered?  Absolutely. But they survived.

For most of these communities, the initial goal during a wildfire should be to get as many people as possible to the wide paved areas of the valley floor. This might mean getting them INTO the traffic jam. The amount of time it takes to get them to a safe shelter where they will remain until the fire is extinguished is far less important than their safety.  There's a monumental misconception that roads along the valley floor (the "main routes") will be consumed by fire, and that being in your car exposes you to greater danger. This is not reality.

Please don't take this as advocating for doing nothing.  There are a tremendous number of small steps that need to be taken to improve traffic flow, enhance ingress and egress safety, and improve evacuation orderliness.Let's keep working together to make these happen. That said, increasing the number of exits from a community (the only way to improve a community's score using the logic of this study) or building multi-lane freeways where none exist today is not the answer.  We need to educate our neighbors and set achievable goals, and this article/study, while interesting, does not contribute any realistic targets.

Here are some immediately achievable steps that will dramatically increase safety (and reduce traffic) when evacuating:

  • Fill every seat!  Carpool - pick up neighbors, especially those without cars or who need help (elderly and those with mobility, hearing, or visual impairments).
  • Leave your belongings, take only your "Go Kit" (and your family and pets). You're insured.
  • Be a good neighbor - harden your home, maintain defensible space, and clear roadside vegetation where your property fronts a road.  If your property doesn't ignite burn, it won't contribute to the problem and may even provide safe shelter while the fire passes if evacuation is not possible.

July 2019

Grazing Project Update

This year, the Sleepy Hollow Fire Protection and its primary partners: Marin County Open Space District, San Domenico School, Triple C Ranch, and the Rocking H Ranch contracted with Star Creek Land Stewards to create shaded fuel breaks and defensible space in Sleepy Hollow utilizing livestock grazing.  Last year we had one herd of 400 goats and a second herd of 200 goats combined with 200 sheep. This year we had three herds of goats for a total of 1200 goats. 

We are very pleased with the results so far.  The goats moved through the land that was grazed last year more quickly because the heavier vegetation had been thinned.   In addition, the herders have done an excellent job in the way they set the fences and move the herds around.  Previously, the goats were reluctant to eat poison oak in the spring when it was green and oily and they ate almost none of the scotch/french broom.  For some reason this year, they have been aggressively eating both the poison oak and some of the broom. Interestingly, when the animals enter a new area, they immediately start eating the coyote brush, followed by the leaves on low hanging branches. Grass is their least favored meal, but they eventually graze and trample on it greatly reducing the fire threat.

A continuous shaded fuel break, designed to stop/slow down fires and create a safe area for firefighting operations, was created from Fox lane all along the Terra Linda Fire Road (Sleepy Hollow/Terra Linda Divide) to the top of the Luiz Ranch Fire Road where it meets the Rocking H Ranch.  A mid slope fuel break was created along the ridge to the south of San Domenico School, across the entire Triple C Ranch to an area above Dutch Valley Lane up to the Mather Fire Road. This fuel break was then extended to the top of the ridge behind Manor View Drive in Fairfax. This fuel break will eventually extend along Wilder Drive fire road to Oak Springs Drive.   Coupled with some grazing that has been done on the saddle between Rocking H Ranch and the northern side of San Domenico, Sleepy Hollow will for the first time be completely ringed with a substantial fuel break.

This year more defensible space was created behind homes on the slopes of the Sleepy Hollow Terra Linda Divide.  Grazing was done on San Domenico property to protect homes at the end of Van Tassel Ct. Additional work took place behind homes on Luzanne Ct., Martling Rd.,  Sleepy Hollow Dr. and Hidden Valley School where they abutt Open Space Land. More acreage was grazed in the open bowls off of Fox Lane. And once again the goats cleared all of the land around the San Domenico campus to a distance of approximately 300 feet.

The herds will spend the rest of the summer working at White Hill School, Cascade Canyon and Canyon Creek Village in Fairfax, Hawthorne Canyon and adjacent properties in San Anselmo and areas around Sorich Park and Red Hill.

June 2019

Evacuation Drill June 29
This year the Ross Valley Fire Department is conducting a joint evacuation drill for the southeast quadrant of Sleepy Hollow and the Cascade Canyon area of Fairfax.  On Saturday, June 29, at 9am Sleepy Hollow residents in the evacuation zone and Cascade Canyon will receive a message through the Alert Marin warning system announcing that the voluntary evacuation drill has started and they should immediately evacuate to Drake High School.   Car pooling is encouraged. When you arrive at Drake High School, we request that you sign in at registration and we invite you to stay for an informative Safety Fair. All residents of Sleepy Hollow are encouraged to attend the Safety Fair.

Evacuation drills enable public safety personnel to practice interagency coordination, test communication systems, and review evacuation procedures including traffic management.   These drills encourage residents to take action to prepare themselves for a real life emergency. All residents should use this drill as an opportunity to revisit their Family Emergency Plan, double check that they are signed up for Alert Marin, check their Go Bag, and review the Wildfire Evacuation Checklist https://www.firesafemarin.org/preparedness/evacuation/evacuation-checklist.

A few key points to remember include: evacuation is most likely to take place on a “red flag” day when you should be on maximum alert; if you receive and evacuation order leave immediately; if you receive an evacuation warning, leave as soon as possible; know how to open your garage door if there is no power and/or park your car in your driveway facing out; have your Go Kit packed; have your pet and pet carrier ready to go; dress in protective clothing; check on or call neighbors to make sure they are prepared and ready to leave; assist elderly or disabled neighbors if you can.

This year's evacuation zone includes the following streets in Sleepy Hollow: Butterfield (east side south of Green Valley Ct.), Butterfield Lane, Deer Hollow, Fawn, Fox, Oak Crest, Quail, and The Alameda (above 314).

Chipper Days

Unfortunately we had to cancel our first chipper day due to the rain.   The next events are:

June 22-23, 2019

Curbside Pick-Up - Online registration required! (Registration opens June 1, closes June 20)

Time: 9AM-4PM Location: At the curbside in front of your home. 

July 20-21, 2019

Curbside Pick-Up -    Online registration required! (Registration opens July 1, closes July 18)

Time: 9AM-4PM Location: At the curbside in front of your home.

October 5, 2019 (to coincide with the creek clean up)

DROP-OFF ONLY -  No registration required

Time: 9AM-3PM Location: End of Butterfield Rd.

Learn more at  www.shfpd.org/chipper

February 2019

Emergency Alert Systems
If Sleepy Hollow is threatened by a catastrophic fire there are a number of emergency alert systems operated through the Marin County Office of Emergency Services that will provide warnings and information related to evacuation or other emergency procedures.  For more information please visit their web site www.marinsheriff.org/services/emergency-services/emergency-alert-and-warning-tools.

Emergency Alert System (EAS)
This system is used to send detailed warnings via broadcast, cable, satellite, and wireline radio and television channels. EAS provides very broad alerting to the entire Bay Area media market.  

Wireless Emergency Alerts  (WEA) also called Amber Alerts
The Office of Emergency Services can send messages to all cell phones within range of a series of cell towers.  You do not need to be a subscriber to an alerting system to receive the message. The system is only used cautiously because messages are received by many cell phone users who are not actually in an evacuation zone or under immediate threat.

Alert Marin
You must sign up to receive emergency alerts at Alertmarin.com.   You can choose multiple ways to receive an alert. Call, text, email, or smart phone application.   If you have a landline, that is automatically included to receive alerts.

Reverse 911
This system only works for landlines.   The Office of Emergency Services can send messages to all landlines within a specific geographic area which can be determined by OES.  

Nixle
Information is posted by local police department ensuring that you receive trusted and immediate, geographically relevant information over your cell phone by text message, by email, and over the web. Members of the public may self-register by texting their zip code to 888777. The Ross Valley Fire Department is also using Nixle if there is a routine fire or other emergency 

Social Media
The Marin County Sheriff’s Office uses many of the social media platforms now available to assist in disseminating information to the public. These platforms are: Twitter, Facebook, Nextdoor, Instagram, Webpages and others. 

Sirens/Horns
Some communities in Marin County use sirens or horns to alert residents and visitors to an imminent dangerous situation. The siren/horn activation is usually followed up by the distribution of additional information or direction by using one of the alerting systems above or by broadcasting a pre-recorded message on a local radio station. The Sleepy Hollow Fire Protection District is working with the LRAD Corporation to determine if a siren system would be effective in Sleepy Hollow.

Law Enforcement/Fire Agency Evacuation Procedures
Law Enforcement Officers and Firefighters may drive through neighborhoods during an actual event with sirens activated announcing evacuations and/or emergency directions over their loud speakers. Sheriff’s Air Patrol may also fly overhead announcing the same information.

December 2018

On Saturday November 17 the Sleepy Hollow Fire Protection District voted to adopt a resolution  authorizing the District to enter into a lease agreement with the Sleepy Hollow Charitable Foundation (SHCF) with the consent of the Sleepy Hollow Homes Association (SHHA) for District public facilities at 1317 Butterfield Road.  The new community center will serve dual use as a Preparedness Center, a facility that will be used to provide safety information to the public, hold meetings, conduct trainings, organize our Community Preparedness Coordinator Program, and provide an office for the District. 

In addition the Center can be used as an all hazards emergency shelter containing emergency power, heat, medical and other emergency supplies such as flashlights, hand tools, portable generators, food/water, cots, etc.  Hopefully we will never have to put it to this use. We recognize that in the event of a truly catastrophic wildfire like the North Bay fires or the Camp Fire, we may need to evacuate outside of Sleepy Hollow. But that is the rare event.   It is more likely that we will experience a small to medium fire. Such a routine fire would likely be contained and controlled in less than 24 hours and residents would be able to return home or stay comfortably over night if necessary. Similarly in a weather related disaster we would have a site to get up to date information, recharge electronic devices, warm up, share a cup of coffee with or help neighbors. 

The SHFPD Board appreciates the fact that so many community members have taken the time over the last five years to participate in the development of this project.  The lease agreement has overwhelming support among Sleepy Hollow residents and we look forward to working with the Charitable Foundation and Homes Association to get this project completed.

On another note, we are all aware that there is poor cell phone coverage in Sleepy Hollow.  Both the Homes Association and the District have met with cell phone providers to see if coverage can be improved, but the geography of Sleepy Hollow makes it difficult without adding more cell sites.  The Marin Board of Supervisors, which is the authorizing agency, is studying expansion and deployment of cellular wireless service. Meanwhile our Fire Board is joining with other Marin public agencies to explore installation of an outdoor warning system.  These modern systems can warn the public of both man made and natural events such as wildfire, flood, or chemical release. The systems are capable of issuing a tone followed by audible voice instructions. On December 4, the LRAD corporation will be conducting an acoustic study in Sleepy Hollow which might include an audible test.   

October 2018

The Sleepy Hollow Fire Protection District (SHFPD) will hold a Special Meeting on Saturday, October 27 at 10 a.m. at the Sleepy Hollow Community Center to receive and review a report on the status of real estate negotiations between the SHFPD and the Sleepy Hollow Homes Association (SHHA) and Sleepy Hollow Charitable Foundation (SHCF) in connection with the proposed rebuild of the Community Center.   The report is available for public review on our website at www.shfpd.org. 

All District residents are encouraged to attend the Meeting where there will be an opportunity to ask questions and provide public comment on the report.  If you are unable to attend the meeting, you are encouraged to submit your comments regarding the report to the SHFPD Board of Directors by e-mail via our website.  

The SHFPD Board members have not made a decision about the draft real estate agreement and no vote on the proposal will be taken at this meeting. The purpose of the meeting is to provide information to the public and to solicit comments. A future public meeting will be held, probably within 2-3 weeks of the Oct. 27 meeting, where the SHFPD Board will formally consider whether to enter into a lease agreement with the SHHA/SHCF.

September 2018

As of this writing, 150 firefighters are working to contain the Irving Fire (152 acres, 45% containment) burning just over the ridge from us in Sleepy Hollow and the San Geronimo Community Center has been activated to house evacuees.  In an eerie coincidence, on September 4, 2018, the Marin Independent Journalposted an article entitled “Sitting Ducks: Marin Among Riskiest Wildfire Zones in Region.”  This statement – if not the Irving Fire --  surely comes as no surprise to Sleepy Hollow residents. 

Now for the good news:  In 2017, the Sleepy Hollow Fire Protection District (SHFPD) funded a detailed analysis of the risks and hazards unique to Sleepy Hollow.  That analysis is available on our website at www.shfpd.org.  To help reduce our risk, the SHFPD funds the following:

  1.     We provide community fire protection as a full member of the Ross Valley Fire Department (RVFD), whose Board of Directors includes two SHFPD representatives.
  1.     We provide state-of-the-art Advanced Life Support emergency medical and ambulance services as a member of the Ross Valley Paramedic Authority (RVPA), including licensed paramedics onboard each RVFD engine that responds into Sleepy Hollow.  An SHFPD director represents the community on the RVPA Board. 
  1.     We maintain annual certification as a FireWise® Community through strategic activities and projects.
  1.     We have adopted the latest Fire Codes and will be holding meetings to discuss possible adoption of a Hazardous Vegetation ordinance.
  1.     We sponsor and/or spearhead with community partners simultaneous vegetation management projects, including:
  • A contract with the Marin County Fire Department (MCFD) for intensive inspections of all 850 parcels within the SHFPD by MCFD personnel;
  • Four annual Chipper Days, including onsite pickup, with record-setting volumes of vegetation cleared;   
  • Creation of shaded fuel breaks (goat grazing) in partnership with Marin County Open Space, San Domenico School, Triple C Ranch, Rocking H Ranch, and other public agencies.
  • Fire road maintenance within the SHFPD, including restoration of some previously abandoned roads that now permit better firefighter access; and 
  • A first-of-its-kind fire-safe landscaping demonstration project located on Fox Lane (at the top of Fawn Drive).
  1.     We conduct ongoing public education activities for SHFPD residents, including:
  • ∙ Publication and distribution of the “Living With Fire in Sleepy Hollow” educational booklet;
  • ∙ Organization and hosting of our annual Fire Safety Fair in collaboration with partner agencies;
  • ∙ Offering “Living With Fire” classroom training to all SHFPD residents
  • ∙ Publishing regular helpful articles in Sleepy Hollow Homes Association Newsletter; and 
  • ∙ Maintaining our up-to-date, informative website (www.shfpd.org) to facilitate public awareness and communications
  1.     We organize and conduct evacuation drills for residents and first-responders, including:
  • Holding an annual evacuation drill, complete with RVFD, RVPA, MCFD, Marin County Sheriff, CHP, Red Cross, and PG&E participation;
  • Providing updated evacuation information to all residents via our “Living With Fire” publication
  • Supporting and promoting Alert Marin and improved wireless communications vital to community safety; and
  • Exploring the installation of an outdoor public warning system (to be considered at future public meetings).
  1.     We have initiated the block-by-block Neighborhood Preparedness Coordinator project 
  1.     We have successfully applied for and received multiple fire prevention grants from the State and other sources.
  1. We continue to explore establishing an SHFPD office and community emergency shelter to better serve all residents.

July 2018

Wildfire season has arrived earlier than usual due to a dangerous combination of wind and low humidity. As of July 10, more than 2600 hundred wildfires have been reported this year. The two largest are the County Fire: 90,000 acres burned 80% contained and the Klamathon Fire: 36,500 acres 40% contained. We have an excellent, highly trained fire department, but the majority of the responsibility for preventing catastrophic wildfires falls on individual property owners. Make sure that you are in compliance with Defensible Space regulations as described in the Living With Fireguidebook that was sent to all residents. If you received a violation notice during the recent hazard inspection program, make sure that you have corrected any deficiencies.

In the event of a large wildfire, you may be required to evacuate your home. Preparing in advance and evacuating early may mean the difference between life and death. Follow the principles of the Ready, Set, Go Program described in the Living With Fireguidebook Make sure you have signed up for emergency notifications through AlertMarin (register atAlertMarin.org). Follow the evacuation checklist to give your family and home the best chance of surviving a wildfire. On August 4thwe will have an evacuation exercise at 10am for the northeast quadrant of Sleepy Hollow (Van Tassel Ct, Irving Dr, Martling Rd, Luzanne Cir, Sleepy Hollow Dr, Hidden Valley Ln, Green Valley Ct and the east side of Butterfield Rd north of Green Valley Ct.) If you live in that area, please participate in the drill. If you don't live in the evacuation zone, come to the Safety Fair at the Sleepy Hollow Homes Association Community Center from 10-11:30 and learn more about community wildfire preparedness.

We are looking for volunteer interested in serving as Preparedness Coordinators who will help their neighbors build disaster resilience. The SHFPD will support each neighborhood with training and basic emergency equipment.

  • Organize your neighborhood into groups of homes led by neighborhood preparedness coordinators (block captains). Whether by going door-to-door, social media or local events, organize your neighbors and build a response group.
  • Know your neighbors. Share information among your neighbors so everyone knows who needs help and who can help. Neighborhood social events help build this sense of community.
  • Improve preparedness by encouraging creation of Family Disaster Plans and Go Kits, signups for Alert Marin, purchase of battery operated radios, participation in safety classes and evacuation drills.
  • Build a safe response capability. Identify the resources that already exist in your neighborhood such as knowing who is medically trained, who is a CERT member, who is a Red Cross volunteer, who has a generator, etc. to improve response capability in your neighborhood.
  • Get trained. The skill level and training of your neighborhood group will be critical after a disaster. The SHFPD will help you get trained.

JUne 2018

EVACUATION DRILL & SAFETY FAIR: AUGUST 4

Sleepy Hollow Fire Protection District (SHFPD), Ross Valley Fire Department (RVFD) and the Sleepy Hollow Homes Association (SHHA) have started preparations for this year's wildfire evacuation drill to be held on Saturday, August 4, 2018 at 10 AM. This year the drill will target the north eastern quadrant of Sleepy Hollow including Van Tassel Ct, Irving Dr, Martling Rd, Luzanne Cir, Sleepy Hollow Dr, Hidden Valley Ln, Green Valley Ct and the east side of Butterfield Rd north of Green Valley Ct.

  • Residents will receive automated alerts from Alert Marin by phone prior to the evacuation drill. Please be sure to register for Alert Marin at www.alertmarin.org.
  • Law enforcement and firefighters will conduct training that day to exercise their plans for evacuation and fire suppression.
  • It only takes about 20 minutes to participate in the drill. When you receive the evacuation notice, immediately leave home, go to the Sleepy Hollow Community Center to register and then you can return home. Hopefully you will instead choose to stay for our Safety Fair.

The Safety Fair will last from 10 to 11:30 AM and all residents of Sleepy Hollow are encouraged to attend. The Fair will include representatives from various public safety agencies and preparedness groups such as the RVFD, Marin County Sheriff's Office of Emergency Services, FireSafe Marin, Red Cross, Marin Citizens Emergency Response Teams, etc. There will be an informative fire simulation table showing how a hypothetical fire would spread in the evacuation zone. The SHFPD will have several exhibits to describe major projects the District has undertaken this year such as the goat grazed fuel breaks, fire road improvements, parcel inspections, preparedness training, etc.

​RVFD SHARED SERVICES

As reported in the Marin IJ, the RVFD Board voted to enter into a shared services agreement with the Marin County Fire Department (MCFD) rather than hiring a new chief. Rich Shortall and Tom Finn, our two representatives on the Board, both strongly support the new agreement. Rich and Tom have worked closely with MCFD Chief Jason Webber and other MCFD staff and are very impressed with the organization. The agreement will include many additional resources from MCFD at no additional cost which will make our already excellent RVFD that much stronger.

​CHIPPER DAYS

Reminder, the next Chipper Day is July 14 and 15 with curbside pickup. Please be sure to register through our website (registration opens July 1). A drop off chipper day will be held in October to coincide with the creek clean-up.

May 2018

“Living With Fire”
The Sleepy Hollow Fire Protection District “Living With Fire” booklet was mailed to all residents in the District. Please take time to read through the document. There is valuable information regarding evacuation, warning systems, defensible space, fire insurance and hardening your home. The booklet supports our recent classroom presentations which provided an opportunity to have your fire safety questions answered by experts. For those of you who missed the class, we will repeat it later this summer.

Evacuation Drill, Saturday August 4
The most frequently asked questions during the classroom presentations had to do with evacuation. Although there is only one major roadway in and out of Sleepy Hollow, we are fortunate that Butterfield Road is a relatively wide street by Ross Valley standards. If we do need to evacuate, Law Enforcement Officers will manage major intersections to keep traffic flowing. On Saturday, August 4 we will hold an evacuation drill for the northeast quadrant of Sleepy Hollow. We will again evacuate to the SHHA Community Center where we will hold a Safety Fair with all Sleepy Hollow residents encouraged to attend. Whether you live in the designated evacuation area or not, the drill should be taken as an incentive for you to go over your pre-evacuation checklist, sign up for Alert Marin notifications, update your family disaster plan, check your Go Bag and review the evacuation guidelines from the Ready, Set, Go program that are included in the “Living With Fire” booklet.

Hazard Inspections/Chipper Days
We recently completed comprehensive inspections for all 850 parcels in Sleepy Hollow. Approximately 27% of the inspected homes were given notices to make required safety improvements. We witnessed an immediate increase in the number of homeowners removing hazardous vegetation on their property. Our first chipper day on May 12 was our busiest ever. As a reminder, our next two chipper events are curbside pickup on June 9-10 and July 14-15.

Grazing Project
Many of you have seen the goats at work creating a shaded fuel break on our Marin County Open Space ridge tops. Towards the end of the month, the herd will come down from the ridge to clear land on the San Domenico School campus. From there they will move to the Triple C Ranch and finish at the ridge above San Domenico and the Rocking H Ranch. We believe that livestock grazing is both reducing fire risk and helping the environment. We are happy to report that we have received a great deal of positive feedback about the project from both residents and Marin County agencies.

February 2018

 

The Sleepy Hollow Fire Protection District is sponsoring a fire prevention class entitled “Living With Fire.” The class will be held at the SHHA Community Center on Wednesday March 28 from 6-8PM, Saturday April 7 from 10AM-12PM and Wednesday April 18 from 6-8PM. This class will be taught by Sleepy Hollow resident and retired firefighter Dan Dunnigan and is specifically tailored to our community. Topics will include:

  • Risks and Hazards: Learn about the history of fire in Sleepy Hollow and our unique risks and hazards. What lessons can be learned from the fires in Napa/Sonoma?
  • Evacuation: What are the emergency warning systems? When and where do we go? What are the evacuation routes? What do we bring? How do we prepare – “The Ready, Set, Go Program.” Get involved in our Summer Evacuation Exercise and Safety Fair.
  • Vegetation Management: What is the WUI? What is the Ember Zone? Protecting the Hollow: find out about our ridge top fuel break, fire road maintenance and roadside vegetation clearance projects.
  • Defensible Space: Get ready for our 2018 Residential Inspection Program. How much clearance do you need? What plants are safe? What plants should be removed? When to remove or limb up trees.
  • Structural Ignitability: Tips to harden your home and make it safer: Upgrade and/or maintain: roofing, vents, windows, fencing, wooden decks, garage doors, and sprinklers.
  • Neighborhood Preparedness: We want your suggestions fo identifying and recruiting volunteer neighborhood preparedness coordinators to serve as local preparedness organizers.

Community Center Rebuild Update
Negotiations are continuing for development of a proposal regarding the SHFPD’s use of a rebuilt Community Center. The Board is committed to ensuring the SHFPD has a home that makes financial sense for all parties. To facilitate matters, the SHFPD engaged former director Chris Warner as its designated negotiator. Discussions have not reached a point where an agreement on a proposal is imminent but negotiations are progressing. There can be no assurance that a final agreement will be reached.  Any proposal will be presented to the Fire Board for their consideration and ample public discussion and comment prior to any vote of the Board.  The negotiations are exempt from the provisions of the Brown Act and will remain confidential until a final proposal is reached or the SHFPD is prepared to make an official announcement. 

January 2018

Cal Fire reports that in 2017 over 1.3 million acres burned and over 10,000 structures were destroyed, marking it as one of the worst fire seasons in California history. In 1923 when weather conditions were similar to those on the night of the Napa/Sonoma fire, a fire started in Ignacio, burned through Lucas Valley, Woodacre and the rear of Sleepy Hollow spreading into the Cascades in Fairfax, West Marin to the Bolinas Ridge. We now have a year round fire season and the number and intensity of large fires is increasing. 
 
In 2017 the SHFPD began implemention of the Strategic Plan by successfully completing the following prevention projects: certification as a Firewise® Community, on-site inspections for all parcels, four chipper events, vegetation cleared on Mather Fire Road and Fawn Drive, defensible space and evacuation mailings, first-ever Safety Fair, major evacuation exercise, management of the sand bag program, and receipt of multiple fire prevention grants.
 
In 2018, the SHFPD will support several new large-scale fire prevention projects. The first is an unprecedented fuel reduction program conceived and created by the SHFPD in cooperation with four contiguous large property owners: San Domenico School, the Marin County Open Space District, Triple C Ranch, and Rocking H Ranch. The group started meeting well before the Napa/Sonoma fires in order to explore ways to improve the fuel break along the ridge tops that encircle the SHFPD.  We have contracted with Star Creek Land Stewards to bring in a herd of 450 goats to decrease brush density, increase the diversity of native perennial grasses and prepare the soil for forest restoration. The SHFPD has also worked with San Domenico to perform an assessment of fire fuel hazards on its campus. San Domenico has committed to clear a 30 acre fire fuel zone on the hills around the perimeter of the campus.  A detailed description of the program is on our website. With support from the Marin County Fire Department and the SHFPD, San Domenico School also recently completed restoration of fire truck access to the ridge roads on Loma Alta Open Space Fire Road and Sleepy Hollow/Terra Linda Open Space Fire Road.
 

October 2017

Once again, October has proven to be our worst month for fires. The wildfires we are experiencing are truly catastrophic in nature and the fire behavior is more extreme than what we are used to and, in some cases, prepared for. High winds, low humidity, and parched lands and vegetation have combined to create firestorms that spread the fires at an unprecedented rate. Unfortunately, even some homes and businesses that met all the defensible space standards were lost due to wind-propelled embers that lodged under roofing, eaves, and siding allowing the fire to “leap-frog” and. These losses included: a new firehouse station, a Hilton Hotel, several “big box”stores, a high school, wineries, and entire residential neighborhoods. This does not diminish the importance of defensible space; under normal fire conditions defensible space allows firefighters access to protect your home, but during a catastrophic event even well protected properties may be lost.

The Sleepy Hollow Fire Protection District (SHFPD) will continue to sponsor and support fuel reduction programs, including parcel inspections, chipper days, and the creation of firebreaks along roadways and ridge tops. Ongoing collaborations with other public agencies, private organizations, and individual community members is indispensable to our efforts.

Perhaps the most important lesson to be learned from the recent fires is the necessity of pre-planning for evacuation. At a minimum, all residents should take the following actions :
(1) enroll online for the Alert Marin emergency notification system
(marinsheriff.org/services/emergency-services/alert-marin) to receive emergency alerts and evacuation instructions via call, text, email, or smartphone application from the County of Marin;
(2) create a wildfire evacuation plan (readyforwildfire.org/Wildfire-Action-Plan), including escape routes, pet safety, an emergency meeting location for the family, and a family communication plan;
(3) prepare a personal “go kit” with essential supplies, including prescription medications, for use in the event of evacuation;
(4) assemble copies of essential records (insurance, medical, deeds, contacts, passports, etc.); and
(5) stay tuned to local news to stay informed, including our local Ross Valley Emergency Radio (1610 AM).

If and when you receive an evacuation order, close all doors and windows and leave immediately. Know how to open your garage door if there is no electricity. The evacuation order will include information about shelters. The determination of shelter locations will depend on the size, rate of spread, and projected path of the fire.

SHFPD will continue to hold an annual evacuation exercise. The exercises raise awareness, test the Alert Marin and other emergency communication systems, provide an opportunity for residents to learn more about fire safety, and allow first responders to improve their operational readiness. In the near future, we also plan to provide Get Ready training, a two-hour class that will teach you how to be safe before, during, and after a disaster. We aim to use this training to launch the development of a CERT (Citizens Emergency Response Team) or similar neighborhood-focused team program to train residents to help fill the gap between a disaster or emergency, and the arrival of professional services.

July 2017

We are proud to welcome our new Board member Sharon Adams.   As a 40-year resident and former Sleepy Hollow Homes Association President, Sharon is well-known in within the District and beyond.  Her energy and admirable history of community involvement will be tremendous assets to our Board and will help us to promote and support the many fire and other public safety projects that are described in our new Strategic Plan.

Please plan to participate in Sleepy Hollow's first-ever wildfire evacuation drill on Saturday, August 5, 2017. This drill will prepare residents and first responders for an evacuation should one become necessary. Residents who live on Van Winkle Drive and all of the adjacent side streets will receive automated alerts by telephone prior to the drill.  We will conduct annual evacuation drills in a different Sleepy Hollow quadrant each year going forward. Please register for the Alert Marin program at marinsheriff.org/services/emergency-services/alert-marin).  Law enforcement and firefighters will conduct training that day to exercise their plans for evacuation and fire suppression.  

Evacuated residents will assemble at the Sleepy Hollow Community Center where we will hold a Safety Fair.  All Sleepy Hollow residents, whether you live in the evacuation area or not, are invited to come to the Safety Fair from 9-11 a.m., where coffee, snacks, and information on wildfire and disaster preparedness from local agencies and organizations will be available.   

The July Chipper Days were a great success! Our busiest Chipper Days ever, we saw 25% growth over the same time last year.  If you missed us, or have more material to chip, it's not too late - we'll be coming back August 26-27. Thanks for doing your part to make Sleepy Hollow a Firewise Community®!  Thank you to Small World Tree Service, a Sleepy Hollow business, for getting the job done quickly and professionally!

Finally, the Marin County and Ross Valley Fire Departments have completed our Defensible Space inspections.  Over 800 parcels received a detailed inspection and each homeowner was provided with valuable written advice on ways to reduce hazards.   We have happily observed that many owners have removed significant amounts of hazardous vegetation from their properties.

 
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