CalFire Setbacks

The Solution: What We Need from the Fire Department

The fire department needs to give-up the right to dictate what goes where on a homeowner’s roof.

This might sound extreme, but we already have scenarios that don’t serve the fire department:

  • Buildings are constructed out of wood and other flammables since the economics of building requires it.
  • Buildings are built taller than fire department ladders since the economics of urban real estate requires it.

Solar is the same. The economics of solar requires that homeowners be allowed to maximize the coverage of their best roofs.

If the suggestion that the homeowner be allowed to control what goes where on his/her own roof is too extreme, let me propose a back-up position:

Every fire jurisdiction should be able to document how it is supporting the adaption of solar in its community by approving, whenever possible, meaningful compromises to the CalFire setbacks.

For a few fire jurisdictions, this will require an attitude adjustment. But that’s fine. Giving in a bit on the setback requirements is not a loss of face. It’s a public entity working to serve the needs and wishes of the homeowners it has pledged to serve.

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