The State Fire Marshal Gives $250 Grants To Renters And Landlords To Make Their Homes Safer In Case Of A Wildfire


Sky21– The State Fire Marshal is providing $250 awards to help property owners in 50 towns clear space in front of their homes to prevent wildfires. The campaign, which began on March 11 ahead of the 2024 wildfire season, is intended to encourage homeowners in regions at high risk of wildfires to clear space around their properties. According to the State Fire Marshal’s office, this includes removing debris, plants, tree branches, and any flammable materials from within 5 feet of homes and structures.

Despite state fire agencies’ requests for increased funding to assist property owners in creating defensible space and hardening homes and buildings in high-risk regions, the Legislature approved approximately $3 million for such work last summer. That’s around ten times less than what Congress approved in 2021. During the most recent legislative session, state Sen. Jeff Golden, D-Ashland, suggested spending $5 million to fund defensible space improvements, but it died in the Joint Ways and Means Committee.

It would also have funded the creation of a state certification program for house hardening to assist Oregonians in protecting their properties, as well as encouraging insurance companies to continue providing wildfire coverage and maintaining level premiums for properties judged at high risk of wildfire. Property insurance premiums have risen by an average of about 30% across the state since 2020, according to the Department of Consumer and Business Services. In some sections of the state, the Capital Chronicle discovered that homeowners are paying twice or quadruple what they paid a year ago in premiums, and in some locations, several of the country’s largest insurance firms are not writing new property policies.

To be eligible for the $250 grant, applicants must request a free defensible space evaluation from a local fire department or the Fire Marshal. An expert will visit the property and create a list of steps that the applicant can take. These include removing vegetation growing under eaves or in gutters; removing brush, needles, leaves, and mulch near decks and fences; trimming and pruning trees and shrubs, as well as cutting dead and overgrown branches; removing any highly flammable debris within 100 feet of a structure; and keeping all combustible vegetation at least 10 feet away from propane tanks.

If a renter or property owner clears at least two places or completes two tasks on the list, they may apply. Successful applicants will receive $250 Visa gift cards to assist pay for the work. The organization says that $250 would be appropriate remuneration for approximately eight hours of work, or $31 per hour.

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