Vista fire inspector to visit 20 wood shake roof homes

VISTA — The Vista Fire Protection District discussed wood roofing shingles and their susceptibility to catching fire at its Jan. 10 board meeting. In a wildland fire incident, flying embers land on these roof types adding to an already hazardous situation.

“Our goal has been, and continues to be, to get as many of those (wood shake roofs) replaced with noncombustible, fire-rated roofs that we can,” Vista Deputy Fire Chief Ned Vander Pol said. “Over the years, we’ve been encouraging residents as they are able, to replace those roofs with noncombustible roofing material. A home with a wood shake roof that catches fire creates a problem for neighboring homes.”

Currently, there are 20 homes in Vista with combustible wood shingles — and they are spread throughout the district.

According to Vander Pol, Fire Inspector Mike McFadden will visit those 20 identified homes. The goal is to meet with residents and discuss some options, mainly replacing their current roof with a material that is a noncombustible fire-rated roof.

McFadden is meeting with district residents with the goal of educating homeowners in person. That’s the priority, Vander Pol said.

The fire inspector will also leave homeowners with literature and investigate other ways of reducing the fire risk for structures with a wood shake roof.

Vander Pol was quick to point out that cost was a big concern for homeowners unable to swap out a shake roof with a noncombustible one. He also shared that he was unaware of any homeowner incentives or grant opportunities at this time.

Vander Pol said wood shake roofs have always been a concern ever since they were outlawed by the state approximately 30 years ago.

“This has been an identified concern for us and the fire district,” he said. “Just like any other district throughout the state, they have actively worked in the past to identify and encourage property owners to change those (wood shingles) out. We understand though that often this is a financial concern and people just don’t have the ability to do it.”

Vista Fire Protection District Director and Vice President Robert Fougner said for those district homeowners who have wood shake roofs, who are for whatever reason unable to address the issue immediately, McFadden can assist in other areas.

“Inspector McFadden will be encouraging them (homeowners) to take other remedial steps to improve their defensible space, in clearing around their dwelling to minimize the risk of embers getting to their roof at least to the extent they can,” Fougner said. “In addition to his outreach directly to those 20 people, we plan to increase signage throughout the district promoting the availability of Inspector McFadden’s services to come and visit individual properties and give a briefing on steps they can take to improve fire safety.”

Vander Pol said that educating residents is an ongoing effort. When Santa Ana conditions do develop, that’s when large loss fires can occur. Individuals are encouraged to have a heightened situational awareness, pay attention to the weather and to use apps like Alert San Diego and ReadySanDiego.gov.

“These apps are great resources to get that information,” Vander Pol said.

To reach Fire Inspector McFadden, Vista residents are asked to call (760) 643-2801.

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