SENATE BILL 6202
State of Washington 52nd Legislature 1992 Regular Session
By Senators Barr, Stratton, Saling and Amondson; by request of Department of Natural Resources
Read first time 01/21/92. Referred to Committee on Environment & Natural Resources.
AN ACT Relating to fire protection; amending RCW 76.04.005 and 58.17.020; adding new sections to chapter 76.04 RCW; adding a new section to chapter 19.27 RCW; adding a new section to chapter 58.17 RCW; and creating a new section.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON:
NEW SECTION. Sec. 1. The legislature finds that Washington state faces increasing incidents of destructive wildfires in wildland/urban interface areas. The wildfires periodically occur in desirable housing developments that are located in extreme high risk areas. The wildfires threaten the health, safety, and welfare of all persons in the areas. The legislature further finds that fire prevention and fire safety are not currently being considered in the local planning process for new residential housing developments.
Therefore, preventive measures must be emphasized, including developing insurance incentives to improve fire protection standards, increased consideration of fire prevention and fire protection needs, and increased consideration of uniform building code standards.
Sec. 2. RCW 76.04.005 and 1986 c 100 s 1 are each amended to read as follows:
As used in this chapter, the following terms have the meanings indicated unless the context clearly requires otherwise.
(1) "Additional fire hazard" means a condition existing on any land in the state covered wholly or in part by forest debris which is likely to further the spread of fire and thereby endanger life or property.
(2) "Closed season" means the period between April 15 and October 15, unless the department designates different dates because of prevailing fire weather conditions.
(3) "Department" means the department of natural resources, or its authorized representatives, as defined in chapter 43.30 RCW.
(4) "Department protected lands" means all lands subject to the forest protection assessment under RCW 76.04.610 or covered under contract or agreement pursuant to RCW 76.04.135 by the department.
(5) "Emergency fire costs" means those costs incurred or approved by the department for emergency forest fire suppression, including the employment of personnel, rental of equipment, and purchase of supplies over and above costs regularly budgeted and provided for nonemergency fire expenses for the biennium in which the costs occur.
(6) "Forest debris" includes forest slash, chips, and any other vegetative residue resulting from activities on forest land.
(7) "Forest fire service" includes all wardens, rangers, and other persons employed especially for preventing or fighting forest fires.
(8) "Forest land" means any unimproved lands which have enough trees, standing or down, or flammable material, to constitute in the judgment of the department, a fire menace to life or property. Sagebrush and grass areas east of the summit of the Cascade mountains may be considered forest lands when such areas are adjacent to or intermingled with areas supporting tree growth. Forest land, for protection purposes, does not include structures.
(9) "Forest landowner," "owner of forest land," "landowner," or "owner" means the owner or the person in possession of any public or private forest land.
(10) "Forest material" means forest slash, chips, timber, standing or down, or other vegetation.
(11) "Landowner operation" means every activity, and supporting activities, of a forest landowner and the landowner's agents, employees, or independent contractors or permittees in the management and use of forest land subject to the forest protection assessment under RCW 76.04.610 for the primary benefit of the owner. The term includes, but is not limited to, the growing and harvesting of forest products, the development of transportation systems, the utilization of minerals or other natural resources, and the clearing of land. The term does not include recreational and/or residential activities not associated with these enumerated activities.
(12) "Participating landowner" means an owner of forest land whose land is subject to the forest protection assessment under RCW 76.04.610.
(13) "Slash" means organic forest debris such as tree tops, limbs, brush, and other dead flammable material remaining on forest land as a result of a landowner operation.
(14) "Slash burning" means the planned and controlled burning of forest debris on forest lands by broadcast burning, underburning, pile burning, or other means, for the purposes of silviculture, hazard abatement, or reduction and prevention or elimination of a fire hazard.
(15) "Suppression" means all activities involved in the containment and control of forest fires, including the patrolling thereof until such fires are extinguished or considered by the department to pose no further threat to life or property.
(16) "Unimproved lands" means those lands that will support grass, brush and tree growth, or other flammable material when such lands are not cleared or cultivated and, in the opinion of the department, are a fire menace to life and property.
(17) "Washington state fire services" means the statutorily authorized fire agencies within the state, including public fire departments and districts, state fire fighting units, and federal fire fighting units.
(18) "Wildland" means any forest or unimproved lands that have enough flammable vegetative material, to constitute in the judgment of the department, a fire menace to life or property. Wildland, for protection purposes, does not include structures.
(19) "Wildland/urban interface or intermix" means a line, area, or zone where structures and other human development meet or intermingle with undeveloped wildland.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 3. A new section is added to chapter 76.04 RCW to read as follows:
The department shall, in cooperation with the Washington state fire services, develop a rating system to evaluate the levels of wildfire risk to existing structures and potential development areas located in the wildland/urban interface or intermix. This system shall be used to identify areas of high and extreme hazard, and shall include a map that displays these areas. The department shall reevaluate the locations of risk areas as necessary, but at least once every five years.
The department and the Washington state fire services shall jointly work with the insurance industry to develop a rate incentive program for structures located in areas of high or extreme hazard risk levels. This program shall seek to establish a decreased rate for landowners that undertake mitigation measures designed to protect their structures from wildfire.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 4. A new section is added to chapter 19.27 RCW to read as follows:
The state building code council, with assistance from the department of natural resources and the Washington state fire services, shall consider for incorporation into the uniform building code by July 1, 1993, fire protection standards for high or extreme hazard risk level areas as determined by the department of natural resources, to include but not be limited to:
(1) Spark arrestor screens on all outlets from stoves and fireplaces;
(2) Minimum levels of fire protection performance for building materials, including a minimum of roofing materials which will pass the class B fire resistance rating test;
(3) Water system designs to provide adequate supply for fire protection needs, and to identify alternate water sources; and
(4) Defensible space and vegetation management.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 5. A new section is added to chapter 76.04 RCW to read as follows:
(1) Any person who owns, controls, operates, or maintains any electrical transmission or distribution line upon, in, or adjoining any wildland/urban interface area identified by the department of natural resources as having a hazard risk level of high or extreme shall maintain a clearance between all vegetation and all conductors carrying electrical current. The applicable clearance extends in all directions.
(2) The area around and adjacent to any pole or tower supporting a switch, fuse, transformer, lightning arrester, line junction, or dead end or corner pole, or any pad or ground mounted transformer shall maintain a fire break consisting of a clearing of not less than ten feet in each direction from the outer circumference of such pole or tower. This section does not apply to any line used exclusively as telephone, telegraph, telephone or telegraph messenger call fire or alarm line, or other line which is classed as a communication circuit by the public utilities commission. The department or agency that has primary fire protection responsibility for the protection of such areas may permit exceptions from the requirements of this section based upon local conditions.
Sec. 6. RCW 58.17.020 and 1983 c 121 s 1 are each amended to read as follows:
As used in this chapter, unless the context or subject matter clearly requires otherwise, the words or phrases defined in this section shall have the indicated meanings.
(1) "Subdivision" is the division or redivision of land into five or more lots, tracts, parcels, sites or divisions for the purpose of sale, lease, or transfer of ownership, except as provided in subsection (6) of this section.
(2) "Plat" is a map or representation of a subdivision, showing thereon the division of a tract or parcel of land into lots, blocks, streets and alleys or other divisions and dedications.
(3) "Dedication" is the deliberate appropriation of land by an owner for any general and public uses, reserving to himself no other rights than such as are compatible with the full exercise and enjoyment of the public uses to which the property has been devoted. The intention to dedicate shall be evidenced by the owner by the presentment for filing of a final plat or short plat showing the dedication thereon; and, the acceptance by the public shall be evidenced by the approval of such plat for filing by the appropriate governmental unit.
(4) "Preliminary plat" is a neat and approximate drawing of a proposed subdivision showing the general layout of streets and alleys, lots, blocks, and other elements of a subdivision consistent with the requirements of this chapter. The preliminary plat shall be the basis for the approval or disapproval of the general layout of a subdivision.
(5) "Final plat" is the final drawing of the subdivision and dedication prepared for filing for record with the county auditor and containing all elements and requirements set forth in this chapter and in local regulations adopted under this chapter.
(6) "Short subdivision" is the division or redivision of land into four or fewer lots, tracts, parcels, sites or divisions for the purpose of sale, lease, or transfer of ownership: PROVIDED, That the legislative authority of any city or town may by local ordinance increase the number of lots, tracts, or parcels to be regulated as short subdivisions to a maximum of nine.
(7) "Binding site plan" means a drawing to a scale specified by local ordinance which: (a) Identifies and shows the areas and locations of all streets, roads, improvements, utilities, open spaces, and any other matters specified by local regulations; (b) contains inscriptions or attachments setting forth such appropriate limitations and conditions for the use of the land as are established by the local government body having authority to approve the site plan; and (c) contains provisions making any development be in conformity with the site plan.
(8) "Short plat" is the map or representation of a short subdivision.
(9) "Lot" is a fractional part of divided lands having fixed boundaries, being of sufficient area and dimension to meet minimum zoning requirements for width and area. The term shall include tracts or parcels.
(10) "Block" is a group of lots, tracts, or parcels within well defined and fixed boundaries.
(11) "County treasurer" shall be as defined in chapter 36.29 RCW or the office or person assigned such duties under a county charter.
(12) "County auditor" shall be as defined in chapter 36.22 RCW or the office or person assigned such duties under a county charter.
(13) "County road engineer" shall be as defined in chapter 36.40 RCW or the office or person assigned such duties under a county charter.
(14) "Planning commission" means that body as defined in chapters 36.70, 35.63, or 35A.63 RCW as designated by the legislative body to perform a planning function or that body assigned such duties and responsibilities under a city or county charter.
(15) "County commissioner" shall be as defined in chapter 36.32 RCW or the body assigned such duties under a county charter.
(16) "Defensible space" is a managed buffer surrounding buildings and structures that is designed to reduce the chances of a fire spreading to or from the building or structure.
(17) "Fire-resistant plants" are those plants with the following characteristics:
(a) Little seasonal accumulation of dead vegetation;
(b) Open, loose branching habit;
(c) Nonresinous woody material;
(d) Low volume of total vegetation;
(e) High moisture content in leaves;
(f) Drought tolerance; and
(g) Slow growth that requires less frequent pruning.
(18) "High and extreme hazard risk levels" are fire protection levels based upon a rating system that identifies existing and potential areas, susceptible to significant loss of property and life in the event of a wildfire.
(19) "Wildland" means any forest or unimproved lands that have enough flammable vegetative material, to constitute in the judgment of the department, a fire menace to life or property.
(20) "Wildland/urban interface or intermix" means a line, area, or zone where structures and other human development meet or intermingle with undeveloped wildland.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 7. A new section is added to chapter 58.17 RCW to read as follows:
In addition to any other requirements imposed by this chapter, the legislative authority of a county shall not approve a final plat, as defined in RCW 58.17.020, for any subdivision which lies in, upon, or adjacent to wildland/urban interface or intermix areas that have been identified as having a high or extreme hazard risk level for fire protection, unless the area subject to the plat will receive:
(1) Fire protection services: (a) By a fire protection district or municipality which includes such area, or (b) through an agreement with an approved private or a municipal corporation for the provision of such services; and
(2) Provisions to ensure that minimum fire protection standards have been met, including but not limited to:
(a) Roads, streets, and ways that provide for unobstructed traffic circulation during emergencies; to include: (i) More than one access route; (ii) sufficient design to support the weight of twenty-ton emergency vehicles; (iii) widths of not less than twenty-four feet; (iv) maximum grades of ten percent; (v) minimum curve radius of one hundred feet measured at the centerline; and (vi) dead end roads that do not exceed six hundred feet in length and have a turnaround at the closed end of at least one hundred feet in diameter;
(b) Driveways to provide a minimum unobstructed width of twelve feet, a minimum unobstructed vertical clearance of fifteen feet, turnouts designed and constructed every four hundred feet, and a turnaround at all building or structure sites that is within fifty feet of the building or structure on driveways longer than three hundred feet;
(c) Defensible space provided by the developer and maintained by the property owner around and adjacent to each building or structure. The space shall be maintained by clearing away all flammable vegetation or other combustible growth, not to include plants with fire-resistant characteristics, for a distance of not less than thirty feet or not more than one hundred feet on each side of the building or structure or to the property line, whichever is nearer;
(d) Emergency water supplies that will meet fire suppression purposes as determined by the fire protection agency having jurisdiction, but in no case less than a minimum fire flow of two hundred fifty gallons per minute for two hours;
(e) Roof coverings that shall meet a minimum of class B fire resistive rating requirements; and
(f) Any other structural design and construction necessary to provide for fire protection as defined by the uniform building code.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 8. If any provision of this act or its application to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the remainder of the act or the application of the provision to other persons or circumstances is not affected.