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Prep Your Business for California Wildfire Season


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  • California wildfire season is devastating to property owners. SERVPRO® offers fire damage cleanup, repair, and restoration, all with 24-hour emergency services.

    California can be struck by extreme fire damage, including wildfires, which can cause severe damage to your commercial property, threatening your health and safety and potentially putting a halt to business operations. But what is it about The Golden State that makes it so prone to wildfires? And how can you prepare your commercial property? SERVPRO® is Here to Help® with this and more. 

    What is a Wildfire? 

    According to FEMA, a wildfire is defined as “An unplanned, unwanted fire burning in a natural area,” such as forests, prairies, or grassland. They might start from human intervention or natural causes, like lightning. To learn more, visit our resource page about wildfire preparation and SERVPRO’s board-up services.  

    Why Does California Get So Many Wildfires?  

    California is not immune to extreme weather. In fact, the March 2024 report by FEMA shows 11 California counties are at the highest risk of wildfires. Notably, these counties are all located in the mid-to-southern area of the state. They are: 

    • Riverside County
    • San Diego County
    • San Bernadino County
    • Los Angeles County
    • Ventura County
    • Orange County
    • Kern County
    • Madera County
    • Santa Barbara County
    • Tuolumne County
    • Calaveras County

    While these counties are cited as being particularly susceptible to the risk of wildfire, other regions of California also experience wildfires. In 2023, lighting sparked the Head Fire in Northern California, which burned more than 3,500 acres, according to Inciweb. In fact, Northern California is particularly prone to this intense phenomenon because, as Study California states, this region experiences a continental climate the further inland you go, which contributes to arid and dry summers. These dry conditions make this region especially susceptible to wildfires.  

    Interestingly, the western half of Northern California tends to experience a Mediterranean climate, while the eastern half tends to experience a dry, arid desert climate, according to this excerpt from the Atlas of the Biodiversity of California.  

    But what do all these terms mean? National Geographic provides the following definitions of various types of climates:  

    • Continental Climate: “Areas with continental climates have colder winters, longer-lasting snow, and shorter growing seasons.” In other words, continental climates experience extreme swings in temperature, due to being in the “transition zone” between mild and polar climates. They tend to be found in the interior of continents, and there are three subtypes: warm summer, cool summer, and subarctic. Notably, all continental climates are found in North America, and thunderstorms and tornadoes often form in these types of climates.  
    • Mediterranean Climate: “Mediterranean climates have warm summers and short, mild, rainy winters. [They] are found on the west coasts of continents between 30° and 40° latitude, and along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Mediterranean summers feature clear skies, cool nights, and little rain.”  
    • Dry Climate: “Regions lying within the dry climate group occur where precipitation is low. There are two dry climate types: arid and semiarid.” Northern California experiences an arid climate, which supports some of the hottest places in the world. As far as rain goes, most arid climates receive 4 to 12 inches of rain per year. This type of climate can include extreme fluctuations in daily and seasonal temperature.  

    Ultimately, as Eric Kauffman notes in his excerpt from the Atlas of the Biodiversity of California, The Golden State is “one of the few places where five major climate types occur in close proximity.”  

    When is California Wildfire Season?

    While wildfires can occur any time, regardless of the season, California’s wildfire season tends to occur between April and October, according to CalMatters.  

    How Do You Prepare Your Commercial Property for Wildfire Season in California?  

    Beyond protecting employee and customer health and safety, your business includes expensive and important equipment and information. AmTrust Financial Insurance advises taking the following steps in your commercial property to prepare for wildfires:  

    • Consider Installing Class A Rated Roofing. There are classifications of different roofs, depending on the slope and fire resistance ability. Class A provides the greatest protection. If it comes time to replace your roof, consider installing Class A. While The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy details Class A, B, and C roofing, know Class A types include slate, metal roofing, concrete tile, clay tyle, and Class A rated shingles made of fiberglass asphalt.  
    • Clear Clutter. This includes cleaning and maintaining gutters and your roof, especially after storms and when seasons change. For more information, read our article about the importance of a strong roof.  
    • Create Buffer Zones. Consider creating “buffer zones” around your property to minimize the chance of embers or sparks from nearby wildfires igniting

    Zone details are as follows:

    • Zone 1: 0-5 feet from your building. Minimize landscaping and shrubbery this close to the actual property and consider using gravel. Make sure debris and other materials are kept clear from this area.  
    • Zone 2: 5-30 feet from your building. Landscaping and other vegetation should be carefully maintained. Hard surfaces, like concrete, are recommended for sidewalks around the building.  
    • Zone 3: 30-100 feet from your building. Again, landscaping and other vegetation should be carefully maintained and smartly spaced. Any dead trees or dead shrubbery should be promptly removed from this area.  

    Additional tips include:  

    • Maintain and/or Replace Vent Screens. These “entryways” can be easy ways for embers or sparks to enter your building, so they should be checked regularly for debris and cleaned if necessary. Consider using metal screens and spark arrestors to help lower the chance of wildfire remnants or fumes entering your commercial property.  
    • Store Items Wisely. When it comes to combustible items like propane tanks, wooden pallets, flammable liquids, stacks of paper, boxes, and more, store them in areas where they have a lower likelihood of igniting or helping feed a fire.  
    • Install gutter covers that are non-combustible.  
    • Make sure eaves are enclosed.  
    • Consider installing tempered insulating glass.  
    • Consider replacing combustible gates or fencing with non-combustible barriers.  
    • Enhance site access and entryways for firefighters and other emergency laborers.  
    • Consider replacing exterior doors and exterior wall cladding.  
    • Move combustibles and other small structures away from your building, if possible.  
    • Create fire-resistant landscaping around the site.  
    • Consider replacing any decks, wooden walkways, balconies, or other types of raised platforms with fire-resistant or non-combustible material.  

    For information on preparing your home for wildfires, read our companion articles about spring wildfire season and SERVPRO’s board-up services for wildfires.  

    SERVPRO’s Fire Damage Cleanup Services  

    As part of our full-service cleanup, restoration, and construction services, SERVPRO offers fire damage cleanup services for properties both big and small. Cleanup professionals follow a seven-step fire damage restoration process, which includes: 

    1. Emergency Contact.  
    2. Inspection and Fire Damage Assessment.  
    3. Immediate Board-Up and Roof Tarping Service.  
    4. Water Removal and Drying.  
    5. Removal of Smoke and Soot from All Surfaces.  
    6. Cleaning and Sanitizing.  
    7. Repairs and Construction.  

    SERVPRO’s Construction Services  

    In many cases, cleaning and restoring a property struck by fire damage goes beyond removing debris, scrubbing walls, and thoroughly cleaning the interior. Oftentimes, construction services can help rebuild the damage, truly returning your space to pre-loss condition and making it “Like it never even happened.”  

    In addition to construction, SERVPRO offers board-up and roof tarping services to help protect against the elements while restoration commences, along with animals, illegal entry, theft, and more.   

    SERVPRO is Here to Help with Fire Damage Cleanup and Restoration  

    When fire damage strikes, whether from a wildfire, cooking accident while frying a turkey, or more, SERVPRO has your back. Established in 1967, the #1 choice in fire and water cleanup and restoration* has become a trusted partner across North America for home and business owners looking to get back on their feet after property damage requires cleanup, restoration, and construction.  

    Our construction services include roof tarping and board-up services for both residential and commercial properties, so no matter the extent of property damage, SERVPRO cleaning professionals can work to rebuild after property damage, making your restoration experience truly “full circle” as they return your property to pre-loss condition, “Like it never even happened.”   

    To find out more, visit our FAQ and Glossary.   

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    *#1 Choice in cleanup & restoration based on Commercial and Residential Attitude & Usage Tracking studies. Polling 816 commercial business decision-makers and 1,550 homeowner decision-makers on first choice for future needs related to cleanup & restoration work. Studies conducted by C&R Research: Oct 2019 and Decision Analyst: Oct 2019.