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Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is ISO?
  2. When & why do I have to cut my weeds?
  3. What do I need to know about smoke detectors?
  4. What about carbon monoxide detectors?
  5. What should I do if I have a fire in my home?
  6. What should I do if I hear a siren while driving?
  7. What should I do if I hear a siren while driving on a state highway or freeway?
  8. What are Occupancy Inspections?

What is ISO?

The Insurance Services Office (ISO) has developed a rating system based on a scale of 1 to 10 to reflect a community’s ability to suppress fire. These ratings can have an effect on the insurance premiums for residential and commercial buildings. Typically, the lower the ISO rating is the better the insurance rates are. When the ISO determines what a community’s fire suppression capabilities are, they focus on three areas, the fire department, the water system, and dispatching services.

The assessment of the fire department focuses on personnel, apparatus, and water pumping capabilities. The assessment of the water system focuses on water main size, hydrant distribution, and hydrant maintenance. The assessment of dispatching services focuses on the number of dispatchers on duty and the systems they use to dispatch us. In 2009 Templeton Fire and Emergency Services went through an ISO Public Protection Classification Survey. After the survey, Templeton Community Services District was given an ISO rating of 5. If you would like specific information about our rating please feel free to call us at (805) 434-4911.

When & why do I have to cut my weeds?

The Templeton Community Services Board of Directors has adopted guidelines for weed/hazard abatement to assist property owners in maintaining their properties in a “fire-safe” condition through the hot summer months (Ordinance 2011-1). A total effort is required by all members of the community if we, as a community, wish to avoid devastation brought on by wildland fires, which many communities like ours have experienced.

  • Weed abatement must be maintained May 1 through the end of November
  • Please do not mow after 10 a.m. if the temperature exceeds 80 degrees F.
  • If your property is in parcels of three acres or less it must be mowed or disked completely.
  • If your property is in parcels of three acres or larger it may be mowed or disked completely, but at a minimum have soil firebreaks around the perimeter and cross breaks at intervals breaking each block in no greater than 1 acre (or as directed by the Fire Department). Firebreaks must be a minimum of 30-feet in width at perimeters and cross breaks and 50-feet minimum around structures. Down slope clearances from structures shall be a minimum of 100 feet. Clearances around and under oak trees shall be a minimum of 30 feet. Exemption: Fenced pastures where livestock is actively and significantly reducing weeds & grasses.
  • Your mower must be set at a maximum height of three inches unless conditions require a greater height. The mower height will then be determined by the Fire Chief. All equipment used for weed abatement work shall be equipped with proper spark arresters, mufflers, etc. A fire extinguisher of pressurized-water or back-pump type is required on equipment for immediate accessibility and use.

Every year fire department personnel have had to go through a very time consuming process to identify, notice, and hire a contractor to clear properties and then submit to the SLO County Tax Assessor a lien against the properties. As an added incentive for property owners to maintain their own property, the Ordinance allows an administrative charge to be included in cost of the work, which the Fire Department is required to perform on behalf of the District. This charge can be substantial, so please get out those lawn mowers, tractors and weed eaters and keep those weeds abated!

What do I need to know about smoke detectors?

86% of homes in the U.S. have at least one smoke detector, one third are not working. Most failures are attributed to lack of battery replacement. Single-family dwellings built or altered after Aug. 14, 1992, are required to have an approved smoke detector installed in each bedroom. Smoke detectors must also be installed in a central location outside of bedroom areas on each floor of the dwelling. California Building Code 310.9.1.4 requires one smoke detector for each floor of multi-family dwellings where no sleeping quarters are located, in addition to one smoke detector in each sleeping quarters and one smoke detector in all hallways adjacent to sleeping quarters. Enclosed stairwells that provide service to multiple dwellings are also required to have a smoke detector.

The Templeton Fire and Emergency Services has a smoke detector inspection program available to all residences within the Templeton Community Services District. This program is designed to ensure all residences are adequately protected by working smoke detectors, as smoke detectors are lifesavers!

Templeton firefighters will test your detectors; replace defective batteries and/or detectors at no charge. If you would like more information on this life-saving project or wish to schedule an appointment to have your detectors inspected, contact the Fire Department at 434-4911.

By the way, when you change your clock back in the fall or forward in the spring remember to change your batteries! It may very well save your life or the life of a loved one.

What about carbon monoxide detectors?

Carbon Monoxide poisoning (CO) is responsible for more than 400 deaths from unintentional poisoning, more than 20,000 visits to the emergency room and more than 4,000 hospital stays in the U.S. annually. Fatality is highest among those 65 and older.

Carbon Monoxide is an odorless and colorless gas that can cause sudden illness and death. CO is commonly found in combustion fumes, such as those produced by vehicles, gasoline engines like those of a back-up power generator, stoves, lanterns, areas for burning charcoal and/or wood, and gas ranges and heating systems. CO from these sources can build up in enclosed or semi-enclosed spaces. Since Carbon Monoxide is colorless and odorless, it kills without warning. This is where it gets its alias “The Silent Killer”.

California Senate Bill 183 was signed into law which requires the installation of Carbon Monoxide detectors in rental units, and dwellings that are being transferred (sold) by January 1, 2011. It also requires that Carbon Monoxide detectors are installed in ALL homes by January 1, 2013.

Proper placement of a carbon monoxide (CO) detector is important. If you are installing only one carbon monoxide detector, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends it be located near the sleeping area, where it can wake you if you are asleep. Additional detectors on every level and in every bedroom of a home will provide extra protection against carbon monoxide poisoning.

What should I do if I have a fire in my home?

In 2010, there were an estimated 369,500 reported home structure fires and 2,640 associated civilian deaths in the United States.  Fire can spread rapidly through your home, leaving you as little as two minutes to escape safely once the alarm sounds. Your ability to get out depends on advance warning from smoke alarms, and advance planning – a home fire escape plan that everyone in your family is familiar with and has practiced.

Draw a simple floor plan of your home showing all exits, including windows. Sit down with everyone in your home, talk about the two best ways to get out of each room, and mark those exits on your plan. Make sure all exits are clear. If you have security bars, make sure they have quick-release devices on the inside. Decide on a safe meeting place outside the home where everyone will gather after they have escaped a fire. Be sure everyone knows the emergency phone number of the local fire department (911). Make sure everyone knows the sound of the smoke alarm and when it sounds to get out and stay out! 

Now practice your escape plan. Send everyone to his or her bedroom and sound the smoke alarm. Go directly to your meeting place and make sure everyone has escaped. Close off some exits and pretend they’re blocked by smoke or flame. In a real fire, you should call the fire department from a neighbor’s phone or a mobile phone only after you have left the building.

For more information on home escape plans and fire safety tips visit the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) website at

What should I do if I hear a siren while driving?

If you see warning lights or hear a siren you must yield the right-of-way! Drive to the right edge of the road and stop until the emergency vehicle(s) have passed. However, never stop in an intersection. If you are in an intersection when you see an emergency vehicle, continue through the intersection and then drive to the right as soon as it is safe to stop. Emergency vehicles often use the wrong side of the street to continue on their way. They sometimes use a loud speaker to talk to drivers blocking their path. You must obey any traffic direction, order, or signal by a traffic or police officer or a firefighter even if it conflicts with existing signs, signals, or laws.

It is against the law to follow within 300 feet behind any fire engine, police vehicle, ambulance, or other emergency vehicle with a siren or flashing lights. If you drive for sight-seeing purposes to the scene of a fire, collision, or other disaster you may be arrested. Casual observers interfere with the essential services of emergency personnel.

What should I do if I hear a siren while driving on a state highway or freeway?

Move Over & Slow Down! Drivers are required to move over and low down when approaching a stationary emergency vehicle or tow truck that is displaying emergency flashing warning lights, or a vehicle marked Department of Transportation that is displaying emergency flashing warning lights, while it is stopped on the side of a state highway or freeway. The law is designed to reduce the deaths of police officers, firefighters, tow truck drivers, CalTrans employees, and other emergency personnel who are aiding stranded or injured motorists or involved in road work. Use caution if lane changes are required.

What are Occupancy Inspections?

The Templeton Fire and Emergency Services would rather prevent an emergency than respond to one, so firefighters conduct annual inspections of all businesses within the TCSD boundaries. These inspections are an opportunity for business owners and the fire department to partnership together at making sure all businesses meet the required fire codes and are safe places for employees and customers. It is also a great opportunity for our firefighters to become familiar with each business, its own unique floor plan, and any potential hazard so that in the event of an emergency precious time is not lost.

Templeton has a thriving medical community and a unique downtown area. Our job is to make sure all those doctors’ offices, restaurants, shops and so much more are safe and open for business!