Preparing for Wildfire

Fire Living with Wildfire

With the increasing risk of wildfire throughout San Mateo County, the time to prepare is now. Are you ready for wildfire?

For tips on how to protect your family and safeguard your home in case of a wildfire, utilize Ready, Set, Go!

Be Ready: Create and maintain defensible space and harden your home against flying embers.

Get Set: Prepare your family and home ahead of time for the possibility of having to evacuate. Ensure you have a plan of what to take and where to go.

Be Ready to GO! When wildfire strikes, go early for your safety. Take the evacuation steps necessary to give your family and home the best chance of surviving a wildfire.

Learn more about wildfire preparation

Learn about living with fire in San Mateo County

Defensible Space Evacuations Vegetation Management Community Wildfire Protection Plan AlertCalifornia Network
Defensible Space
Fire Defensible Space Illustration

Defensible space is the required 100 feet between your property and the surrounding area.

Adequate defensible space acts as a barrier to slow or halt the progress of fire that would otherwise engulf your property. It also helps ensure the safety of firefighters defending your home. Defensible space is the first line of defense for your home against wildfire.

The intensity of wildfire fuel management varies within the 100-foot perimeter of the home, with more intense fuels’ reduction occurring closer to your home. Start at the home and work your way out to 100 feet or to your property line, whichever is closer.

Learn more about Defensible Space Zones

Schedule Defensible Space Inspection


By leaving early, you will give your family the best chance of surviving a wildfire. You also help firefighters by keeping roads clear of congestion, enabling them to move in and out of your neighborhood, and thereby doing their job - saving the lives and property of people affected by the threat of fire. To ensure you’re ready for an evacuation, follow these three steps:

  1. Know Your Zone. Knowing your evacuation zone is critical to the evacuation process. If there is a wildfire or emergency, this is how you will check if you are in an impacted area. Visit: to find your zone.
  2. Sign Up for emergency alerts, known as SMC Alerts here.
  3. Prepare yourself for an evacuation by having the six “P’s” ready, in case immediate evacuation is required:
    • People and pets
    • Papers, phone numbers, and important documents
    • Prescriptions, vitamins, and eyeglasses
    • Pictures and irreplaceable memorabili
    • Personal computers (information on hard drive and disks)
    • “Plastic” (credit cards, ATM cards) and cash

If you're told to evacuate, leave early enough to avoid being caught in fire, smoke, or road congestion. Don’t wait to be told by authorities to leave. In an intense wildfire, they may not have time to knock on every door. If you think it's time to leave, don't wait - get out.

Vegetation Management
Fire Vegetation Management

San Mateo County Fire Department is an active participant in vegetation management throughout San Mateo County. Vegetation management is an important step in protecting property and the environment for citizens living in the wildland/urban-interface zones of San Mateo County through public and private partnerships for education and fuel reduction. In 2019, a Forester Assistant II was hired to plan and implement vegetation management projects in San Mateo County Fire Department jurisdiction. These projects are done through a variety of methods, including mechanical vegetation removal, chipping, pile burning, and prescribed burns.

Fire Vegetation Management Personnel

Currently, three fuel management approaches:

  1. Residential fuel treatments that are used to create defensible space around structures and neighborhoods.2.
  2. Fuel-breaks are corridors along roads or ridges where vegetation is controlled. Fuel-breaks reduce fire intensity and rate of spread allowing fires to be controlled.
  3. Fuel reduction zones are broad, non-linear areas where natural fuels are reduced.

San Mateo County Fire Department partners closely with several organization on vegetation management projects, including CAL FIRE Vegetation Management Program, the San Mateo County Fire Safe Council, and the San Mateo Resource Conservation District.

The San Mateo-Santa Cruz Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP)

The San Mateo-Santa Cruz Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) is a 5-year community-based plan is focused on identifying and addressing local hazards and risks from wildfire throughout the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) areas of San Mateo County. The plan determines what is at risk and provides a road map of actions for the community to address the wildfire threat.

A CWPP may open up federal funding opportunities to implement the plan and is authorized and defined in Title I of the Healthy Forests Restoration Act (HFRA), passed by Congress in 2003.

Read Current CWPP

AlertCalifornia Cameras
Fire Alert CA UCSD

San Mateo County is home to several AlertCalifornia wildfire cameras, a system that provides state-of-the-art technology for data-driven decisions to prepare for, respond to, and recover from natural disasters. Based at the University of San Diego, the ALERTCalifornia camera network is a public safety program that gives first responders access to a network of mountaintop cameras. Locally, these cameras allow San Mateo County Fire Department to observe fires in different areas. These cameras can be controlled by incident commanders as well as emergency command centers.

Fire AlertCA Map

This camera network is open to the public and can be viewed

View Camera Network