During the Dec. 17 Mountain Area Safety Taskforce meeting, Riverside County Fire Chief John Hawkins re-emphasized the purpose of the county’s Fire Code Committee he established this past summer.

“Several people indicated that they were concerned about the potential fire threats posed by unabated properties which had no structures,” he began. While there is some authority in existing Riverside County code for enforcement for fire hazard abatement on undeveloped lots, “It’s not clear enough for areas above 3,000 feet,” he stated.

The committee is still working on details and no decisions have been made, he stressed. Then he affirmed that he is committed to a public process and hearing before making a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors.

An example of the questions that need addressing before any decision or conclusion is made includes how to pay for the abatement if the property owner does not have the work done.

“This not cheap [on the Hill] because of the heavier fuels here,” Hawkins said. “I don’t know yet; maybe we can get grant funds from the State Responsibility Area fire prevention fees. We may go to other government sources or even may come to no funding.”

The next committee meeting is 1 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 13, at the Mountain Resource Center, and it is “open to anyone,” Hawkins promised.