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TalmadgeTalmadge is a compact, heavily populated metropolitan canyon community located with in the City of San Diego, California. The canyon ridge is rimmed by over 200 single family homes, and beyond the ridgeline there are approximately 1,000 additional homes, 180 apartments, several large condominiums, multiple businesses, an elderly care facility, and a high school with 1,200 students and staff. The estimated residential population is 5,000.

Talmadge is in an officially rated Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone. It is part of an interconnecting canyon network situated on a 62-acre open space habitat on the exterior and interior of the community. The Talmadge canyon is composed of chaparral, steep slopes, and a number of fingers saddles, and ridgelines. Winds can be funneled into these areas and create eddies. Heat can be trapped, intensifying combustible fuels that can cause ignition throughout the canyon, particularly under a Santa Ana condition.

TalmadgeThe community's heightened awareness of the danger of wildfire occurred during the 2003 Cedar Fire. Our resolve to protect the community was further strengthened in response to San Diego County's seven major wildfires in 2007. In both instances, the fires started in forest and rural areas and burned a path through open space natural habitat corridors into densely populated city neighborhoods. A wildfire that would be considered a small acreage fire in a rural setting has the potential to cause significant loss of life and property in a metropolitan setting such as Talmadge and immediately adjoining neighborhoods because of its compactness and density.

Concerned residents formed the Talmadge Fire Safe Council (TFSC) in 2004, now a tax exempt non-profit organization. Talmadge achieved recognition as a Firewise Community/USA in 2005. We work with outside agencies on wildfire prevention strategies, evacuation planning, and grant applications. Within the community, we provide newsletters and educational workshops, and we recruit neighborhood coordinators to work with Talmadge residents and contractors to implement defensible space, home retrofits, and firewise landscaping.

The TFSC has accomplished the following since its inception:

  • Developed a Community Wildfire Protection Plan.
  • Submitted a Fire Fuel Load report to the City of San Diego Fire Chief, resulting in obtaining approval to create 150 feet of defensible space for Talmadge canyon residences
  • Awarded grants in 2006 and 2008 through the California Fire Safe Council grant clearinghouse and US Forest Service to create defensible space in high risk areas of Talmadge. We have completed work on over 140 residences.
  • Developed a structure retrofit program that first prioritizes replacement of wood roofs and then focuses on other parts of the home:
  • Identified 33 homes with wood shake roofs in Talmadge in 2005 as part of the Firewise assessment. Implemented an educational program with residents to convert to Class A fire rated materials; more than 50 percent of these roofs have been replaced.
  • Created a detailed roof replacement guideline document that addresses issues with all types of roofs. It also includes information about eave and vent products that have been approved by the California State Fire Marshall for the Wildland Urban Interface

The TFSC could not have accomplished all this without the assistance and support provided by the Firewise organization and other fire prevention partners, whom we thank and recognize:

  • The City of San Diego, including the Fire-Rescue Department, Parks and Recreation Open Space Division, Developmental Services Division and City Council District 3 Representative
  • San Diego Unit of CAL Fire
  • The U.S. Forest Service from Cleveland National Forest
  • California Fire Alliance
  • California Fire Safe Council
  • San Diego County Fire Safe Council

We will continue to work with these valued partners and put to use the considerable resources they have made available to us to make Talmadge firewise.