COVID-19 UPDATE | The City is coordinating closely with our public health officials at the Santa Cruz County Health Department to prevent the further spread COVID-19. In an effort to protect you and our community, changes and measures have been adopted in daily operations and activities. For further details please click here for the City’s Response to COVID-19

Fire Prevention & Life Safety

Press Enter to show all options, press Tab go to next option

 Prevention COVID-19 Updates

Adoption of the 2019 Edition of the California Fire Code and Fire Code Standards

CHANGES in the Residential Sprinkler Ordinance

An automatic sprinkler system shall be provided in existing structures when, a building permit is issued to allow additions to be made to existing structures:

Group R-3 dwellings:

  • When additions increase the total existing square footage by more than 50%. 
  • Where alterations and/or repairs result in the removal, alteration, modification, replacement and/or repair of fifty percent or more of the external walls of a building.
  • Where alterations result in the removal, modification, replacement and/or repair of fifty percent or more of the existing internal structural and/or non-structural framework.
  • This work done independently or in combination within a five year period, the entire building shall be made to conform to the current provisions of this chapter. 
  • All ADUs constructed on lots with an existing sprinklered primary residence
  • ADU’s attached to main residence and is 50% or greater of the existing sq-ft. of the primary residence

Reference Santa Cruz Municipal Code 19.05.220 CFC SECTIONS 903.1 THROUGH 903.2.10.1 ARE DELETED AND REPLACED – AUTOMATIC SPRINKLER SYSTEMS. 903.2.2 Existing Structures.

NEW Requirements for Wildland Urban Interface Fire Areas

WUI Building Construction Requirements:

2019 California Fire Code, Chapter 49 & 7A

  • Local AHJ (authority having jurisdiction) established high fire hazard severity zone (CWPP)
  • References 2019 California Building Code, Chapter 7A
  • References California Residential Code, Section R327
  • Applies to all new construction and all new materials used for remodels and construction.
  • Includes fire or flame resistant roofing material, roof vent coverings/screens, exterior siding, skylights, windows, doors and decks
  • Applies to accessory structures on the same property
  • Fire exposure and acceptance criteria for fire resistance specified in SFM, NFPA, ASTM and/or UL

WUI Vegetation and Fuel Management Requirements:

2019 California Fire Code, Chapter 49 & Section 4291

  • Local AHJ (authority having jurisdiction) established high fire hazard severity zone (CWPP)
  • References Public Resources Code, Section 4291
  • Fuel management begins 100 feet from the structures(s) with the first 30 feet requiring the most intense management
  • Remove trees/branches that extends within 10 feet of the outlet of chimney/stovepipe
  • Maintain vegetation adjacent to overhanging of a building
  • Maintain the roof of a structure free of leaves, needles or other vegetative materials

See WUI maps below to determine if your property is in a WUI zone.  If you still are not sure please email Fire Prevention Technician Kelly Kumec, at

 Is your property in the WUI?  Click Here For Maps


Permits & Inspections 

The Santa Cruz Fire Department provides Permits & Inspections for all specialized fire detection and suppression systems, as well as tent permits, fire dancing permits and other special event permits.   

 Our plan review turn- around is up to 12 working days.  Call 831-420-5280 or 831-420-5284 if you have any further questions.

Fire Prevention Standards

Ordering a Knox Box

Visit Knox-Box Rapid Entry System to purchase a knox box.  Choose your item and the search Santa Cruz.  Make sure to choose Santa Cruz Fire Dept at 230 Walnut Ave.  If you choose another department, our key will not work.  Any questions call our Fire Admin office at 831-420-5280

Residential Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Alarm Requirements 

  • Smoke & carbon monoxide detectors must be installed in accordance with the 2010 California Residential Code (CRC).
  • All alarms shall comply with requirements for listing and approval by the Office of the State Fire Marshal.

Cal Fire Solar PV Installation Guidelines

The Office of the State Fire Marshal (CAL FIRE-OSFM), local Fire Departments (FD), and the solar photovoltaic industry have developed a guideline for installations to increase public safety for all structures equipped with solar photovoltaic systems.   

Business Fire Safety Inspection Program

The fire safety inspection program is to safeguard to a reasonable degree life and property from the hazards of fire and explosion arising from the storage, handling and use of hazardous substances, materials and devices and from conditions hazardous to life or property in the use or occupancy of buildings or premises. 

Fire Safety Complaints

  • Reporting a fire hazard - Email with your concern.  Please include specific details and address of fire hazard.  
  • We investigate fire safety complaints, including weed complaints. 
  • We are not able to look over fences, climb fences, enter a back yard unless the resident is present and we have their permission. 
  • If the site is determined to be a fire hazard, a safety notice will be issued. 

Weed Abatement

  • The Weed Abatement program is strictly for vacant lots and runs each year, in Spring and Summer.
  • In early April, owners of all vacant lots in the city are contacted about the need to mow/abate the weeds and overgrowth on their lots before May 15th.  
  • If lots are not mowed, a private contractor will be assigned to mow the lot between May 15th and June 15th, sometimes later depending on the year. The owner will be charged for the contractors’ work, plus a $100.00 administrative fee on your property tax bill.
  • Properties with structures are not part of the weed abatement program, but if weeds are dry and deemed a fire hazard, we will ask the property owner to cut their weeds.

Recreational or Warming Fire

  • Allowed daily - unless there is high wildfire danger.
  • A warming recreational fire is an outdoor fire, burning materials other than rubbish where the fuel being burned is not contained in an incinerator, outdoor fireplace, barbeque grill or barbeque pit and has a total fuel area of 3 feet (914 mm) or less in diameter and 2 feet (610 mm) or less in height for pleasure, religious, ceremonial, cooking, warmth or similar purposes.
  • Recreational Fires shall not be conducted within 25 feet of a structure or combustible material.  Conditions which would cause a fire to spread within 25 feet of a structure shall be eliminated prior to ignition.
  • Portable outdoor fireplaces shall be used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and shall not be operated within 15 feet of a structure or combustible material.  Exception: Portable outdoor fireplaces used at one and two family dwellings.
  • Open burning; bonfires, recreational fires and use of portable outdoor fireplaces shall be constantly attended until the fire is extinguished. A minimum of one portable fire extinguisher complying with Section 906 with a minimum 4-A rating or other approved on-site fire –extinguishing equipment, such as dirt, sand, water barrel, garden hose or water truck, shall be available for immediate utilization.
  • There are no restrictions for the use of BBQ's or grills on private property within City limits.  
  • Fires are not allowed on any City Beaches. 

Outside Backyard Burning

  • The annual backyard burning season has ended.
  • Burn permits are $55.
  • Residents must follow burning guidelines and maintain control of their fire at all times.
  • Burn permits are required for all burning projects and must be completed between the hours of 8 am to 4 pm.
  • Property owners may be held liable if a fire escapes their control and/or burns the property of a neighbor.
  • Permits will only be issued to property owners.

Sky Lanterns are Prohibited in California

Sky Lanterns are made from combustible materials such as paper bags or light fabrics which then take flight by the heat from an open flame candle. These devices are a fire safety hazard and we prohibit their use. These lanterns can travel through the air and come down in areas that can catch fire. The use of Sky Lanterns is prohibited by several laws and codes including the Health and Safety Code, T-19 Public Safety Code, the Public Resources Code, and the International Fire Code.

What are the primary threats to homes during a wildfire?

The Firewise USA Website of the NFPA provides Wildfire Risk Reduction Steps to make your home safer during a wildfire.  

Free viewers are required for some of the attached documents.
They can be downloaded by clicking on the icons below.

Acrobat Reader Download Acrobat Reader Flash Player Download Flash Player Windows Media Player Download Windows Media Player Microsoft Silverlight Download Microsoft Silverlight Word Viewer Download Word Viewer Excel Viewer Download Excel Viewer PowerPoint Viewer Download PowerPoint Viewer