CALFire Accused of Not Respecting the Privacy of Rural Landowners

Calfire re-ignited smoldering issues of privacy this last week when a Captain began attempting to do fire inspections on residents in outlying areas west of Garberville. Code enforcement problems recently caused outraged country folk to descend on County Supervisors, and now, Calfire may have fanned cooling privacy concerns into flames.

A local volunteer fireman who wished to remain anonymous explained that locals are “Freaking out.” According to the volunteer, the trust that has carefully been built between fire companies and locals may have been irrevocably damaged.

Apparently, a Calfire (formerly known as CDF) captain began doing inspections out private rural driveways. People reported that she would sometimes climb over locked gates and begin walking through curtilage without even knocking to announce she was there. Then she would leave a list of violations (i.e. brush too close to residence) under the windshield of the homeowner’s car and depart.

Yesterday, she attempted to repeat the action in Crooked Prairie area. Local residents parked a vehicle across the road and informed her that this was private property which she did not have access to. She apparently claimed that she did have access and, according to the volunteer, threatened “We’ll be back soon with law enforcement.”

As a result, local volunteer fire departments have been taking a lot of heat. With some local residents apparently blaming them for “getting into bed” with Calfire and “giving them informal permission to do this.” Some Volunteer Fire Chiefs have met with Calfire in an attempt to explain locals concerns about privacy. “It’s a matter of respect,” says the anonymous volunteer. “[Calfire] has lost communication with the people [its] trying to serve….You can earn respect or you can demand it….If you demand it without earning it then [you] don’t have any respect at all.”


As of this posting I have yet to hear back from a Calfire spokesperson though apparently they are planning to put out a press release soon.


photo of a portion of a quilt designed and put together by Nancy Branch.  Taken at display of Salmon Creek Quilts.



  • Firefighters are truly heros for protecting us from the earth’s natural burn cycle…those fires get in the way of our houses.

    Also, it is great that timber companies create thick underbrush from clearcutting to keep Cal-Fire busy with human caused fire dangers. It’s OUR taxdollars at work, and it’s great that we pay for the timber industy’s greed.

    Maybe Cal-Fire should start dragging mothers and children out of their homes for fire code compliance at gunpoint. Maybe carry assault rifles to defend themselves from those violent pot growers who feel they have land rights and simply expect a little courteousy from tresspassers. (If you cannot tell, I’m being a little sarcastic.)

    Truly a nice post Kym!(no sarcasm:)

  • Kym, once again I have to admire your keen attention to detail. One of the projects that we have looked into for fire department fundraising is evaluating structures for fire exposure. For the discussed amount of $25.00 per structure, the volunteers would evaluate rural structures, and give a report to cal fire and the residence of that structure.

    I voted against doing the evaluations for the very reasons that you are stating here. I felt that there would be no way that we could be doing these kinds of evaluations without raising suspicion. Fire departments are for the protection of life and property period, and we depend on our good report with people for access to the fires and maintain public trust.

    A few years back the County of Humboldt sent out an innocent looking questioneer that essentially said: “please list any hazardous materials that you have stored or handle at your place of business or residence”. The listing was supposed to be used to inform the public safety people where these items were located. No fire department that I know of ever got a listing of those materials. What DID happen though, is the property owners that listed that they had underground fuel tanks, got a bill for an underground fuel tank.

    Lists have a way of becoming a “public record” and you will find your name listed on the cover of the North Coast Journal as a gun permit holder for an example of the irresponsible manner in the way these lists are handled.

    I would say “No Thanks” to being on any kind of list. Lists are no better than the people that make them.

  • Should read; got a bill for an underground fuel tank permit.

  • Kym,

    You’re a great news source and a balanced reporter, but when are you going to put up more of your photos from that quilt show? I’m “burning” to see them!

  • Cal fire came last year to inspect our houses. they made an appt. and were very polite and helpful. They had good suggestions and appreciated knowing where our water storage and ponds were.

  • I sort of remember a similar situation, too. Where we knew they would be in the area and at our place on a certain date. We happened to be gone but they were very polite in the note they left for us, if I remember correctly.

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