SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Daniel Berlant is a CAL FIRE deputy director, and a big part of that job is working with his team on building codes for defensible space in wildland areas.

Berlant and his son Jackson took FOX40 on a tour of their yard, which is designed to be fire safe.

“This all has been cut down four times. So this year was kind of a labor of love in maintaining our defensible space,” Berlant said.

And the low-hanging branches of the trees have been chopped off.

“So, this is more of a park-like setting than a natural overgrown forest would look like,” Berlant said.

Last June, a wildfire started by a vehicle on the road below reached his yard and stopped there, and last Tuesday, it happened again.

“And so, by the time the fire got up here, it slowed down because it lost a lot of the grass that had been burning — hit the areas where we had cut. And then the firefighters at that point attacked it and put it completely out,” Berlant told FOX40.

“My job is to ensure that we are, in the state, using the best available technologies and codes to enforce defensible space, and building codes in woodland areas. So, of course, I’m going to practice what I preach,” Berlant said. “But never did I actually think I’d actually have to experience the fruits of those requirements. And never would I ever have imagined it would happen twice.”

Numbers from CAL FIRE show this fire season is off to a slower start compared to last year. About 4,400 fires have burned roughly 35,000 acres compared to more than 5,200 fires burning nearly 205,000 acres by this time last year.

As far as acres, both years are below the five-year average.

But as Berlant’s personal experience demonstrates, now is not the time to let our collective guard down. 

“It’s early, and maybe this year will be slow. But what will next year look like? And the change in our climate that has caused and really been a major factor in the severity of fires, that’s not going to change any time soon,” Berlant said.