Orange County Fire Watch Program

Every year the Coastal Sage Scrub and Chaparral-dominated wildlands in Orange County dry out over the hot summer months, leaving the plant/fuel moisture content very low. They are then prone to strong Santa Ana winds in the fall, which normally include low humidity levels and high temperatures. Combining _JJA1343these four elements creates high fire risk annually. Through wildland fire ignition data analysis it was discovered that the fire cycle in the Orange County wildlands was on the increase. This was mainly being  caused by the urban wildland interface. Most local fires are unintentionally or intentionally ignited by humans and most are igniting from roads or other urban wildland interface areas. The Orange County Fire Watch program is designed to reduce the rate of human-caused wildland fires by interfering with the ignition sources, especially during extreme weather events, such as the Santa Ana winds.

The main goal of the Orange County Fire Watch program is to reduce wildland fire ignition sources. This is accomplished through Fire Watch program volunteers and staff walking and sitting at the perimeters of high-risk areas of Orange County, in order to be visual deterrents, who report suspicious or dangerous behaviors or activities, and assist with early detection and reporting of ignitions. The visibility of Fire Watch volunteers in these areas is a deterrent to arson and unintentional or intentional detrimental behavior that many result in wildfire ignitions.

_JJA1384The core element of the Orange County Fire Watch program is a highly-trained volunteer group managed by Irvine Ranch Conservancy. Training is provided by OCFA and Conservancy staff, and includes fire behavior education, public interaction training and how to report fires. Volunteers deploy to specific locations determined by fire spread research, historical ignition data, and participant safety requirements. Deployment occurs on Red Flag Warning days, Santa Ana Wind events, and/or in other special circumstances.

If you are interested in volunteering please review the linked volunteering information sheet.

If you have additional questions please call 714-508-4700 or email

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