Category Archives: Disaster Preparedness

The DBCNA Wildfire Defense Bulletin No. 5

On How to Save Your Home and Your Life

In June, Dominican / Black Canyon was recognized by FireWise USA as meeting requirements as a FireWise site. For our homeowners, recognition means:

  • Insurance companies are less likely to cancel policies

  • Some insurance companies (notably USAA) offer discounts on insurance

  • We qualify for funding for “Chipper Days” from FireSafe Marin

  • We have an active plan to reduce risk of fire

While recognition is beneficial, on-going efforts to “harden homes” by home owners along with “walk-through-the-yard” inspections from the San Rafael Fire Department, our own Bulletins and the seminar on August 26 by Katherine Randolph are essential.

Latest report from the San Rafael Fire Dept. Inspectors
“All the homes on Lillian Lane, parts of Glen Park Avenue, Hacienda Court have been inspected. Inspections on Villa Avenue have begun. Citations were issued to land owners that affect the Dominican Neighborhood. These three parcels are shown on the map below:


All three land owners have cooperated, including the owner of an 18 acre ($150,000 project) shaded fuel break from Dominican Drive, Glen Park, and Villa Avenue. French Broom adjacent to the homes on Hacienda in open space has been cleared. Vegetation has been cleared for 10 feet on both sides of Aquinas and Scettrini fire roads into open space.”

Doing our part as homeowners:
As much as San Rafael Fire has done, nevertheless, the residents of Dominican/Black Canyon need to do our part to keep our community safe. Create defensible space near your home and harden your home against wildfire. Track your labor and expenses so we can maintain our certification. We would love to publicize before and after photos of your efforts.

The DBCNA Wildfire Defense Bulletin No. 4

On How to Save Your Home and Your Life

Alert Marin sends a notice to your phone(s) of impending life-threatening events. Timely notice could save your life, especially at night. Alert Marin is a free service offered by the Marin County Office of Emergency Services. Sign up here:  

Registration is particularly important because the current list of phone numbers available to Marin County does not include numbers for cell phones or phone services bundled with internet such as Comcast and AT&T.

Only 466 addresses in our Dominican Black Canyon neighborhood have registered with Alert Marin. This is just half of the 904 homes in our neighborhood. All our homes should be registered – no one should be left behind in an evacuation.  So please sign up now.

In cooperation with the San Rafael Police Department, we are planning an evacuation drill for later this summer. We will use Alert Marin to encourage participation. If you don’t want to test your device or receive a notice of this drill, Alert Marin allows a user to opt out of anything that is not a real emergency.

You may have heard of Nixle, but it is no substitute for Alert Marin. Nixle allows local police departments and county emergency management offices to send notices to subscribers. In Marin, Nixle even includes notices of events like road closures. To sign up, go to:

Thought for the day:
“Fires don’t act the way you think they 

Vegetation Management Post from SR Fire Department

If you’re not a member on Nextdoor, here is some information from Vegetation Management Specialists Patrick Bignardi and Marshall Nau of the San Rafael Fire Department:

Is your property Defensible?

Fire Season is upon us! Is your property defensible in case of a wildfire?

Step 1: Take the test and find out! Click the link below and take the Homeowner Wildfire Assessment.

Step 2: Ask for a Residential Fire Hazard Assessment. Please go to fill out the Residential Fire Hazard Assessment Request Form and an inspector will contact you to schedule an appointment.


Defensible Space for the San Rafael Home in the WUI

Take the basic steps to protect your neighborhood:

The DBCNA Wildfire Defense Bulletin No. 3

On How to Save Your Home and Your Life

Important SRFD mail arrived this last week!
Please be sure to read it carefully.

Your Neighborhood Association wishes to call your attention to the mailer you received from the San Rafael Fire Department this last week.  This critical-information mailer describes the vegetation management needed of each of us to prevent a wildfire from consuming our homes.

Please open it and learn how to follow SR property maintenance regulations that will protect you and your neighbors from the threat of wildfire.  A detailed and very clear diagram shows how to create defensible space around your home – thereby increasing the chance that your home will survive a wildfire.  In addition, you’ll want the helpful phone numbers listed as well as links to useful websites.

So – please check that mail pile and make time to carefully study this essential information.

The DBCNA Wildfire Defense Bulletin No. 2

On How to Save Your Home and Your Life

Every Dominican Black Canyon resident can learn how to deal with the threat of wildfires by watching (lots of pictures and short videos) and listen/reading to this course, particularly the first four lesson sections.

You will learn:

How a wildfire behaves
How homes can ignite when in the proximity of a wildfire
How simple actions can reduce the likelihood of your home being destroyed
How community actions can affect the level of damage caused by a wildfire
And much more

While the course is aimed at fire prevention professionals, it is a major source of information for the homeowner who is living under the perennial threat of wildfire as are all of us living in the Dominican Black Canyon community.

The course is presented in a fashion like that of an online driver education course, with multiple chapters and quizzes at the end of each chapter.  It can be taken all at once or spread out over several days. And it is free.

To access this information, please go to the following site. (This seems to work better on a desktop computer as opposed to an iPad.)

DBCNA Wildfire Defense Bulletin No. 1

On How to Save Your Home and Your Life

Following up on our Wildfire Defense Forum on May 5th, your Neighborhood Assn. will send you added (maybe repetitive, but that’s ok!) facts—just the facts–periodically.

For openers, you have asked about “walk-throughs” (not in your home but outside) by specialists from the SRFD who will show you ways to “harden” your home against the embers of a wildfire.
Both Fire Inspector Pat Bignardi and Fire Inspector Marshall Nau of the SR Fire Dept. are the Vegetation Management Coordinators tasked with protecting the City’s residents and open space from wildfire threats by regularly conducting hazard assessments and inspections for and with property owners. They bring the latest ideas and perspectives based on what has been learned from the Sonoma fires. With about 950 homes in the Dominican area, we suggest you call them now and not wait for the wildfire season to be in full force.

Their contact info is:
Pat Bignardi, work (415) 485-3308 or mobile (415) 847-8385

Marshall Nau, work (415) 485-3457 or mobile (415) 847-8451

Where possible, you may wish to ask your adjacent neighbors if they would like to be included in the walk-through of property at the same time as you, particularly if your homes are close together.

FireWise Expenditure Form for 2017


Yesterday, May 5th, the DBCNA held a Wildfire Defense Forum on the Dominican campus. Those who attended remarked that it was an exceptionally worthwhile event, providing highly useful information.

Now your Neighborhood Association will proceed with applying for a FireWise Certification for Dominican Black Canyon. This certification will benefit our community in, at a minimum, several ways, e.g., the advantages of discounted property insurance rates, the protection from blanket termination of insurance, and continuation of chipper days, to name a few.

The next important step toward FireWise certification is documenting that the neighborhood has already made efforts towards reducing fire risk.  These efforts can be either monetary or time-related.  Any time or money spent toward fire risk reduction counts.

In order to qualify for FireWise certification, DBCNA needs to document outlay of approximately $23,000 total for the entire neighborhood in 2017 (about $24 per household).  Time logged in fire reducing efforts are logged at $24 per hour (the federal volunteer hourly rate). We need your help in documenting that we have reached the FireWise required cumulative total.  You can do this by sending the DBCNA your expenditures from 2017 that will easily allow us to reach that number!


Please submit this form of estimated expenses or time spent towards reducing fire risk for your property in calendar year 2017.

Name: ______________________________


Total expense paid: _________________

Total hours of unpaid labor: _________

You can send this information by:

1. Go online and complete the brief FireWise Expenditure Form 

2. Email Jay Hubert (Fire Committee Chair) at:

3. Print this page, complete the information above and mail to:
P.O. Box 151702
San Rafael, CA 94915-1702

Here is an example on how to complete this form:

John Smith
360 Locust Ave

Total expense paid (to gardeners, contractors, etc): $4200

Total hours of unpaid labor (your hours working on the property): 20

Thank you for helping support this important effort.  If you would kindly submit your form by Friday, May 25th that would be greatly appreciated.

FireSafe Committee Reports


Help us keep our neighborhood safe and get involved in our efforts to create a Firewise Community.   FireSafe Marin’s  website  provides information on fire preparedness, such as creating a defensible space around your home, hardening your house as well as evacuation checklists.  There is also information on what a FireWise Community is and how we can become one.  There is much to learn from the devastating fires in Santa Rosa and even from our own neighborhood fires in the past.  To assist the Dominican FireWise Committee, or for more information about the Committee and our Firewise Community application, please contact Jay Hubert, Chair of the Fire Preparedness Committee at

Meeting from January 25, 2018:

The Dominican Neighborhood Association FireSafe Committee held its first meeting last week to begin work on our application to qualify Dominican as a Firewise Community.  Qualifying will make us eligible for state and federal grants for wildfire prevention projects, help protect homeowners from losing their fire insurance, support free chipper days, and help us plan as a community to prepare for catastrophic wildfire.  The first big step is for us to prepare a community wildfire hazard assessment report.  This includes preparing a history of wildfires in Dominican.  For this, we are looking for a community volunteer to do research at the Marin History Museum. If you would like to contribute by doing this research, please contact Committee Chair Jay Hubert at

Stay tuned for updates on our progress towards becoming a Firewise Community!

Meeting from February 10, 2018

This week a group of Dominican homeowners participated in a neighborhood wildfire preparedness tour organized by Paul Minault of the Dominican FireWise Committee and led by Todd Lando, Coordinator of Firewise Marin. The tour went through backyards with the most challenging conditions, including steep slopes, dense trees, and multiple tree species. Todd explained how to manage trees and shrubs to create defensible space, protect vegetation from wildfire and “harden” the exterior of older homes to prevent ember intrusion, spot fires and the failure of windows and siding due to flames and heat. Pat Bignardi, Vegetation Management Specialist with the San Rafael Fire Department, participated with his advice in this “walk through.”

Our FireWise Committee will be organizing additional tours to educate Dominican residents on the steps they can take to protect their homes from catastrophic wildfire. Stay tuned for the next tour date.

Carabiner on gate

Emergency Evacuation Route for Dominican Heights

In the event of a fast moving wildfire, evacuating Black Canyon down one lane of Mountain View Avenue could be a life-threatening situation. There are approximately 274 homes in the canyon area, many of which are near the open space. The ability to move people out as quickly as possible is critical.

Dominican Heights residents have asked for a number of years to be able to evacuate the 105 homes (from Sienna up through Dominican Dr.) via the gate at the end of Sienna Way. This gate has been locked for years.

The gate is now unlocked, along with the chain link further down the path.

Carabiner on gate

While the trail gate (above) is on City property, the road beyond is private property until it reaches Linden Lane. We have agreement with San Rafael Fire Chief Christopher Gray and the property owner to unlock these barriers for emergency evacuation only.

The residents on Mountain View Ave and connecting streets will continue to evacuate down Mountain View Ave. to Grand.

How to Open Gate at End of Sienna Way

You might want to take a moment to stop by and look at the gate. The gate is closed with a 4” carabiner (see photo above). To open, simply push in the side segment (see below) and weave the carabiner out of the gate latch. The gate has been oiled and easily opens.

carabiner illustration

Further down the path is a chain strewn between two wood posts. The chain now sits on a hook on the right hand post. Just unhook it.

Chain link on hook

Emergency Only

It is important that everyone know this exit route is available, but also respect that this is private property and, in no instance, use this route for anything other than emergency evacuation.

When to Evacuate

In the event of a wildfire, is recommended that you evacuate as soon as possible. If you wait for a mandatory evacuation message from the first responders, it may be difficult for you to get out.


It is possible in an evacuation that taking this route will not be the safest exit. Follow the directions of first responders at all times.

You can learn more about how to prepare for an evacuation on Cal Fire’s website:

If you have questions or comments, send an email to

Wildfire Evacuation Resources and Links

Listed below are links to resources and handouts from the Wildfire Evacuation: What You Need to Know event. If you want to have this presentation for your neighborhood group, HOA, Church group, please contact the Association at

There were a lot of questions about San Rafael Vegetation Management. Currently this is handled by Dave Heida at or you can call the main number at Station 51: 415 485-3307 with questions, requesting an inspection or concerns about neighbor’s vegetation. The overview of the fire regulations, which apply to you if you live in the WUI (Wildland Urban Interface), is item 8 below.

You can listen to the event on Penguin Radio. You might want to try to follow along with the presentation (item 1 below). Listen here.

1. Wildfire Evacuation presentation in PDF format

2. CalFire Ready Set Go Video (6 min)

3. – register all cell phones in your family

4. Grab and Go Checklist

5. Red Cross Emergency Contact Card

6. Ten-in-Ten Form

7. Evacuation Plan Checklist from

8. San Rafael Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) Map (though it is hard to see where you live–use Address Link below)

9. San Rafael WUI List by Address (easier to find your home)

10. San Rafael Vegetation Management Program Compliance Guidelines

11. Cal Fire Ready for Wildfire – Great site and you can download brochures and information

12. General Preparedness including Ready Pets, Ready Kids, and Ready Seniors:

13. Community Wildfire Protection Plan – sign up for Public Meetings in Marin in October