Frequently Asked Questions
Construction in a Fire Hazard Severity Zone and in the Wildland Urban Interface FAQ
Defensible Space FAQ
Fire Prevention FAQ
Plan Review FAQ
Glossary of Terms
Building Official: means the Director of Planning and Development Services or any person appointed or hired by the Director to administer or enforce the County's planning and construction standards. The building official duties shall include plan checking, inspections and code enforcement.
CDF Director: means the Director of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
Combustible Vegetation: means material that in its natural state will readily ignite, burn and transmit fire from native or landscape plants to any structure or other vegetation. Combustible vegetation includes dry grass, brush, weeds, litter or other flammable vegetation that creates a fire hazard.
County Service Area (CSA): a service area formed pursuant to California Government Code sections 25210.1 et seq. to provide fire protection, emergency medical services or other government services.
Defensible Space: is an area either natural or man-made, where material capable of allowing a fire to spread unchecked has been treated, cleared or modified to slow the rate and intensity of an advancing wildfire and to create an area for fire suppression operations to occur. Distance measurements for defensible space shall be measured on a horizontal plane.
Fire Authority Having Jurisdiction (FAHJ): the designated entity providing enforcement of fire regulations as they relate to planning, construction and development. The FAHJ may also provide fire suppression and other emergency services.
Fire Chief: the fire chief is one of the following:
(a) The person appointed by the Board of Supervisors to serve as fire chief in the unincorporated areas not within a fire protection district.
(b) The chief officer of a fire protection district.
(c) The Sheriff when enforcing Chapter 33 of the County Fire Code, which deals with explosives and fireworks, within the unincorporated areas of the County.
Fire Code Official: in the unincorporated areas of the County and not within a fire protection district, a person appointed by the Fire Warden of the San Diego County Fire Authority to administer and enforce the Fire Code. In a fire protection district, the fire chief or any person appointed by the chief to administer and enforce the Fire Code.
Fire Department (FD): any regularly organized fire department, fire protection district, fire company, or legally formed volunteer fire department registered with the County of San Diego regularly charged with the responsibility of providing fire protection to a jurisdiction.
Fire Protection District (FPD). Any fire protection district created under State law and any water district (Municipal Water District/MWD) providing fire protection services.
Fire Hazard Severity Zone(s) (FHZ): are geographical areas designated pursuant to California Public Resources Codes sections 4201 through 4204 and classified as Very High, High, or Moderate in State Responsibility Areas or as Local Agency Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zones designated pursuant to California Government Code, sections 51175 through 51189. The California Code of Regulations, Title 14, section 1280, entitles the maps of these geographical areas as “Maps of the Fire Hazard Severity Zones in the State Responsibility Area of California.”
Fuel Break: is an area, strategically located for fighting anticipated fires, where the native vegetation has been permanently modified or replaced so that fires burning into it can be more easily controlled. Fuel breaks divide fire-prone areas into smaller areas for easier fire control and to provide access for fire fighting.
Fuel Modification Zone (FMZ): is a strip of land where combustible vegetation has been thinned or modified or both and partially or totally replaced with fire-resistant and/or irrigated plants to provide an acceptable level of risk from vegetation fires. Fuel modification reduces the radiant and convective heat on a structure and provides valuable defensible space for firefighters to make an effective stand against an approaching fire front.
Heavy Timber Construction: is a construction style that obtains fire resistance by utilizing larger minimum lumber sizes that are considered more difficult to ignite. This style also avoids sharp projections, rough surfaces and concealed spaces under roofs and floors to bring about a higher degree of fire resistance. Heavy timber construction is considered to provide fire protection equivalent to one-hour fire resistant material in certain applications.
Ignition-Resistant Material: is any fire-retardant-treated wood or noncombustible material as defined in section 202. The enforcing agency may use other definitions of ignition-resistant material that reflect wildfire exposure to building materials and/or their materials’ performance in resisting ignition.
Local Responsibility Area (LRA): means an area designated by a local agency upon the recommendation of the CDF Director pursuant to Government Code sections 51177(c), 51178 and 5118 that is not a State responsibility area and where a local agency, city, county, or district is responsible for fire protection.
State Responsibility Area (SRA): means land that is classified by the Board of Forestry pursuant to Public Resources Code section 4125 where the financial responsibility of preventing and suppressing forest fires is primarily the responsibility of the State.
Wildfire: is any uncontrolled fire spreading through vegetative fuels that threaten to destroy life, property, or resources as defined in Public Resources Code sections 4103 and 4104.
Wildfire Exposure: is one or a combination of radiant heat, convective heat, direct flame contact and burning embers being projected by vegetation fire to a structure and its immediate environment.
Wildland Urban Interface (WUI): is a geographical area identified by the State as a “Fire Hazard Severity Zone” in accordance with the Public Resources Code sections 4201 through 4204 and Government Code sections 51175 through 51189, or other areas designated by the enforcing area to be at a significant risk from wildfires