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SHFPD Bulletins

SHFPD provides regualr updates to Sleepy Hollow residents throught hte Sleepy Hollow Homes Association (SHHA) Bulletin newsletter.  Here's an archive of past updates:

July 2018

Wildfire season has arrived earlier than usual due to a dangerous combination of wind and low humidity. As of July 10, more than 2600 hundred wildfires have been reported this year. The two largest are the County Fire: 90,000 acres burned 80% contained and the Klamathon Fire: 36,500 acres 40% contained. We have an excellent, highly trained fire department, but the majority of the responsibility for preventing catastrophic wildfires falls on individual property owners. Make sure that you are in compliance with Defensible Space regulations as described in the Living With Fireguidebook that was sent to all residents. If you received a violation notice during the recent hazard inspection program, make sure that you have corrected any deficiencies.

In the event of a large wildfire, you may be required to evacuate your home. Preparing in advance and evacuating early may mean the difference between life and death. Follow the principles of the Ready, Set, Go Program described in the Living With Fireguidebook Make sure you have signed up for emergency notifications through AlertMarin (register atAlertMarin.org). Follow the evacuation checklist to give your family and home the best chance of surviving a wildfire. On August 4thwe will have an evacuation exercise at 10am for the northeast quadrant of Sleepy Hollow (Van Tassel Ct, Irving Dr, Martling Rd, Luzanne Cir, Sleepy Hollow Dr, Hidden Valley Ln, Green Valley Ct and the east side of Butterfield Rd north of Green Valley Ct.) If you live in that area, please participate in the drill. If you don't live in the evacuation zone, come to the Safety Fair at the Sleepy Hollow Homes Association Community Center from 10-11:30 and learn more about community wildfire preparedness.

We are looking for volunteer interested in serving as Preparedness Coordinators who will help their neighbors build disaster resilience. The SHFPD will support each neighborhood with training and basic emergency equipment.

  • Organize your neighborhood into groups of homes led by neighborhood preparedness coordinators (block captains). Whether by going door-to-door, social media or local events, organize your neighbors and build a response group.
  • Know your neighbors. Share information among your neighbors so everyone knows who needs help and who can help. Neighborhood social events help build this sense of community.
  • Improve preparedness by encouraging creation of Family Disaster Plans and Go Kits, signups for Alert Marin, purchase of battery operated radios, participation in safety classes and evacuation drills.
  • Build a safe response capability. Identify the resources that already exist in your neighborhood such as knowing who is medically trained, who is a CERT member, who is a Red Cross volunteer, who has a generator, etc. to improve response capability in your neighborhood.
  • Get trained. The skill level and training of your neighborhood group will be critical after a disaster. The SHFPD will help you get trained.

JUne 2018


Sleepy Hollow Fire Protection District (SHFPD), Ross Valley Fire Department (RVFD) and the Sleepy Hollow Homes Association (SHHA) have started preparations for this year's wildfire evacuation drill to be held on Saturday, August 4, 2018 at 10 AM. This year the drill will target the north eastern quadrant of Sleepy Hollow including Van Tassel Ct, Irving Dr, Martling Rd, Luzanne Cir, Sleepy Hollow Dr, Hidden Valley Ln, Green Valley Ct and the east side of Butterfield Rd north of Green Valley Ct.

  • Residents will receive automated alerts from Alert Marin by phone prior to the evacuation drill. Please be sure to register for Alert Marin at www.alertmarin.org.
  • Law enforcement and firefighters will conduct training that day to exercise their plans for evacuation and fire suppression.
  • It only takes about 20 minutes to participate in the drill. When you receive the evacuation notice, immediately leave home, go to the Sleepy Hollow Community Center to register and then you can return home. Hopefully you will instead choose to stay for our Safety Fair.

The Safety Fair will last from 10 to 11:30 AM and all residents of Sleepy Hollow are encouraged to attend. The Fair will include representatives from various public safety agencies and preparedness groups such as the RVFD, Marin County Sheriff's Office of Emergency Services, FireSafe Marin, Red Cross, Marin Citizens Emergency Response Teams, etc. There will be an informative fire simulation table showing how a hypothetical fire would spread in the evacuation zone. The SHFPD will have several exhibits to describe major projects the District has undertaken this year such as the goat grazed fuel breaks, fire road improvements, parcel inspections, preparedness training, etc.


As reported in the Marin IJ, the RVFD Board voted to enter into a shared services agreement with the Marin County Fire Department (MCFD) rather than hiring a new chief. Rich Shortall and Tom Finn, our two representatives on the Board, both strongly support the new agreement. Rich and Tom have worked closely with MCFD Chief Jason Webber and other MCFD staff and are very impressed with the organization. The agreement will include many additional resources from MCFD at no additional cost which will make our already excellent RVFD that much stronger.


Reminder, the next Chipper Day is July 14 and 15 with curbside pickup. Please be sure to register through our website (registration opens July 1). A drop off chipper day will be held in October to coincide with the creek clean-up.

May 2018

“Living With Fire”
The Sleepy Hollow Fire Protection District “Living With Fire” booklet was mailed to all residents in the District. Please take time to read through the document. There is valuable information regarding evacuation, warning systems, defensible space, fire insurance and hardening your home. The booklet supports our recent classroom presentations which provided an opportunity to have your fire safety questions answered by experts. For those of you who missed the class, we will repeat it later this summer.

Evacuation Drill, Saturday August 4
The most frequently asked questions during the classroom presentations had to do with evacuation. Although there is only one major roadway in and out of Sleepy Hollow, we are fortunate that Butterfield Road is a relatively wide street by Ross Valley standards. If we do need to evacuate, Law Enforcement Officers will manage major intersections to keep traffic flowing. On Saturday, August 4 we will hold an evacuation drill for the northeast quadrant of Sleepy Hollow. We will again evacuate to the SHHA Community Center where we will hold a Safety Fair with all Sleepy Hollow residents encouraged to attend. Whether you live in the designated evacuation area or not, the drill should be taken as an incentive for you to go over your pre-evacuation checklist, sign up for Alert Marin notifications, update your family disaster plan, check your Go Bag and review the evacuation guidelines from the Ready, Set, Go program that are included in the “Living With Fire” booklet.

Hazard Inspections/Chipper Days
We recently completed comprehensive inspections for all 850 parcels in Sleepy Hollow. Approximately 27% of the inspected homes were given notices to make required safety improvements. We witnessed an immediate increase in the number of homeowners removing hazardous vegetation on their property. Our first chipper day on May 12 was our busiest ever. As a reminder, our next two chipper events are curbside pickup on June 9-10 and July 14-15.

Grazing Project
Many of you have seen the goats at work creating a shaded fuel break on our Marin County Open Space ridge tops. Towards the end of the month, the herd will come down from the ridge to clear land on the San Domenico School campus. From there they will move to the Triple C Ranch and finish at the ridge above San Domenico and the Rocking H Ranch. We believe that livestock grazing is both reducing fire risk and helping the environment. We are happy to report that we have received a great deal of positive feedback about the project from both residents and Marin County agencies.

February 2018


The Sleepy Hollow Fire Protection District is sponsoring a fire prevention class entitled “Living With Fire.” The class will be held at the SHHA Community Center on Wednesday March 28 from 6-8PM, Saturday April 7 from 10AM-12PM and Wednesday April 18 from 6-8PM. This class will be taught by Sleepy Hollow resident and retired firefighter Dan Dunnigan and is specifically tailored to our community. Topics will include:

  • Risks and Hazards: Learn about the history of fire in Sleepy Hollow and our unique risks and hazards. What lessons can be learned from the fires in Napa/Sonoma?
  • Evacuation: What are the emergency warning systems? When and where do we go? What are the evacuation routes? What do we bring? How do we prepare – “The Ready, Set, Go Program.” Get involved in our Summer Evacuation Exercise and Safety Fair.
  • Vegetation Management: What is the WUI? What is the Ember Zone? Protecting the Hollow: find out about our ridge top fuel break, fire road maintenance and roadside vegetation clearance projects.
  • Defensible Space: Get ready for our 2018 Residential Inspection Program. How much clearance do you need? What plants are safe? What plants should be removed? When to remove or limb up trees.
  • Structural Ignitability: Tips to harden your home and make it safer: Upgrade and/or maintain: roofing, vents, windows, fencing, wooden decks, garage doors, and sprinklers.
  • Neighborhood Preparedness: We want your suggestions fo identifying and recruiting volunteer neighborhood preparedness coordinators to serve as local preparedness organizers.

Community Center Rebuild Update
Negotiations are continuing for development of a proposal regarding the SHFPD’s use of a rebuilt Community Center. The Board is committed to ensuring the SHFPD has a home that makes financial sense for all parties. To facilitate matters, the SHFPD engaged former director Chris Warner as its designated negotiator. Discussions have not reached a point where an agreement on a proposal is imminent but negotiations are progressing. There can be no assurance that a final agreement will be reached.  Any proposal will be presented to the Fire Board for their consideration and ample public discussion and comment prior to any vote of the Board.  The negotiations are exempt from the provisions of the Brown Act and will remain confidential until a final proposal is reached or the SHFPD is prepared to make an official announcement. 

January 2018

Cal Fire reports that in 2017 over 1.3 million acres burned and over 10,000 structures were destroyed, marking it as one of the worst fire seasons in California history. In 1923 when weather conditions were similar to those on the night of the Napa/Sonoma fire, a fire started in Ignacio, burned through Lucas Valley, Woodacre and the rear of Sleepy Hollow spreading into the Cascades in Fairfax, West Marin to the Bolinas Ridge. We now have a year round fire season and the number and intensity of large fires is increasing. 
In 2017 the SHFPD began implemention of the Strategic Plan by successfully completing the following prevention projects: certification as a Firewise® Community, on-site inspections for all parcels, four chipper events, vegetation cleared on Mather Fire Road and Fawn Drive, defensible space and evacuation mailings, first-ever Safety Fair, major evacuation exercise, management of the sand bag program, and receipt of multiple fire prevention grants.
In 2018, the SHFPD will support several new large-scale fire prevention projects. The first is an unprecedented fuel reduction program conceived and created by the SHFPD in cooperation with four contiguous large property owners: San Domenico School, the Marin County Open Space District, Triple C Ranch, and Rocking H Ranch. The group started meeting well before the Napa/Sonoma fires in order to explore ways to improve the fuel break along the ridge tops that encircle the SHFPD.  We have contracted with Star Creek Land Stewards to bring in a herd of 450 goats to decrease brush density, increase the diversity of native perennial grasses and prepare the soil for forest restoration. The SHFPD has also worked with San Domenico to perform an assessment of fire fuel hazards on its campus. San Domenico has committed to clear a 30 acre fire fuel zone on the hills around the perimeter of the campus.  A detailed description of the program is on our website. With support from the Marin County Fire Department and the SHFPD, San Domenico School also recently completed restoration of fire truck access to the ridge roads on Loma Alta Open Space Fire Road and Sleepy Hollow/Terra Linda Open Space Fire Road.

October 2017

Once again, October has proven to be our worst month for fires. The wildfires we are experiencing are truly catastrophic in nature and the fire behavior is more extreme than what we are used to and, in some cases, prepared for. High winds, low humidity, and parched lands and vegetation have combined to create firestorms that spread the fires at an unprecedented rate. Unfortunately, even some homes and businesses that met all the defensible space standards were lost due to wind-propelled embers that lodged under roofing, eaves, and siding allowing the fire to “leap-frog” and. These losses included: a new firehouse station, a Hilton Hotel, several “big box”stores, a high school, wineries, and entire residential neighborhoods. This does not diminish the importance of defensible space; under normal fire conditions defensible space allows firefighters access to protect your home, but during a catastrophic event even well protected properties may be lost.

The Sleepy Hollow Fire Protection District (SHFPD) will continue to sponsor and support fuel reduction programs, including parcel inspections, chipper days, and the creation of firebreaks along roadways and ridge tops. Ongoing collaborations with other public agencies, private organizations, and individual community members is indispensable to our efforts.

Perhaps the most important lesson to be learned from the recent fires is the necessity of pre-planning for evacuation. At a minimum, all residents should take the following actions :
(1) enroll online for the Alert Marin emergency notification system
(marinsheriff.org/services/emergency-services/alert-marin) to receive emergency alerts and evacuation instructions via call, text, email, or smartphone application from the County of Marin;
(2) create a wildfire evacuation plan (readyforwildfire.org/Wildfire-Action-Plan), including escape routes, pet safety, an emergency meeting location for the family, and a family communication plan;
(3) prepare a personal “go kit” with essential supplies, including prescription medications, for use in the event of evacuation;
(4) assemble copies of essential records (insurance, medical, deeds, contacts, passports, etc.); and
(5) stay tuned to local news to stay informed, including our local Ross Valley Emergency Radio (1610 AM).

If and when you receive an evacuation order, close all doors and windows and leave immediately. Know how to open your garage door if there is no electricity. The evacuation order will include information about shelters. The determination of shelter locations will depend on the size, rate of spread, and projected path of the fire.

SHFPD will continue to hold an annual evacuation exercise. The exercises raise awareness, test the Alert Marin and other emergency communication systems, provide an opportunity for residents to learn more about fire safety, and allow first responders to improve their operational readiness. In the near future, we also plan to provide Get Ready training, a two-hour class that will teach you how to be safe before, during, and after a disaster. We aim to use this training to launch the development of a CERT (Citizens Emergency Response Team) or similar neighborhood-focused team program to train residents to help fill the gap between a disaster or emergency, and the arrival of professional services.

July 2017

We are proud to welcome our new Board member Sharon Adams.   As a 40-year resident and former Sleepy Hollow Homes Association President, Sharon is well-known in within the District and beyond.  Her energy and admirable history of community involvement will be tremendous assets to our Board and will help us to promote and support the many fire and other public safety projects that are described in our new Strategic Plan.

Please plan to participate in Sleepy Hollow's first-ever wildfire evacuation drill on Saturday, August 5, 2017. This drill will prepare residents and first responders for an evacuation should one become necessary. Residents who live on Van Winkle Drive and all of the adjacent side streets will receive automated alerts by telephone prior to the drill.  We will conduct annual evacuation drills in a different Sleepy Hollow quadrant each year going forward. Please register for the Alert Marin program at marinsheriff.org/services/emergency-services/alert-marin).  Law enforcement and firefighters will conduct training that day to exercise their plans for evacuation and fire suppression.  

Evacuated residents will assemble at the Sleepy Hollow Community Center where we will hold a Safety Fair.  All Sleepy Hollow residents, whether you live in the evacuation area or not, are invited to come to the Safety Fair from 9-11 a.m., where coffee, snacks, and information on wildfire and disaster preparedness from local agencies and organizations will be available.   

The July Chipper Days were a great success! Our busiest Chipper Days ever, we saw 25% growth over the same time last year.  If you missed us, or have more material to chip, it's not too late - we'll be coming back August 26-27. Thanks for doing your part to make Sleepy Hollow a Firewise Community®!  Thank you to Small World Tree Service, a Sleepy Hollow business, for getting the job done quickly and professionally!

Finally, the Marin County and Ross Valley Fire Departments have completed our Defensible Space inspections.  Over 800 parcels received a detailed inspection and each homeowner was provided with valuable written advice on ways to reduce hazards.   We have happily observed that many owners have removed significant amounts of hazardous vegetation from their properties.