The Kern County Fire Department is sending out friendly reminders to Greater Tehachapi property owners to clear any vegetation, brush or other fire hazards and comply with the Fire Hazard Reduction Program by June 1.

“When people comply with the hazard reduction program and take time to be proactive they are preparing themselves to prevent fires from happening,” said Andrew Freeborn, public information officer for the Kern County Fire Department. “When you can reduce that (threat), the fire also has less of a chance of crossing roadways and provides a safe exit route for homeowners. It then allows fire resource groups to go in and fight the fire.”

Firefighter and resident safety is increased with compliance with the program.

Fuel breaks help stop the spread of a fire. This is a “defensive strategy” in case a fire is accidentally started at a home where a resident is involved in normal household activities, added Freeborn.

Residents should clear 100 feet around all structures, remove any tree limbs lower than six feet from the ground, maintain weed control of 10 feet around all property lines, and gather any dead material for disposal, according to kerncountyfire.org.

“You want to cut grass the normal height of a lawn. Any trees hanging over a structure should be trimmed and gutters of a roof should be cleared. No piles of wood should be placed against the house,” said Kevin Ostrinski, battalion chief in Tehachapi.

The department is reminding all residents to comply before citations are issued. Failure to meet the requirements can result in a $500 to $1,000 fine. The owner is allowed to correct the violation or dispute it within 15 days and after that time, and if it's not corrected, there may be added fees. Each year the department inspects properties to ensure they adhere to the Kern County ordinance codes, according to the county fire website.

Kern County ordinance 8.46.010 says: “It shall be the duty of every owner, manager or person in charge of or in control of any residential unit, multiple dwelling unit, hotel, motel, business, or vacant lot in the urbanized portion of the unincorporated part of the county to maintain his premises free of excessive accumulations of any weeds or other hazardous growths.”

For more information, visit kerncountyfire.org or call 661-823-1001.