(These guidelines have been adapted from Permit Sonoma Chipper Program

Please read the guidelines below before creating your chipper pile. By following these guidelines, our chipper program will run smoothly and our equipment will remain in better condition to chip more of our community’s debris. Thank you for your cooperation. 

Here is a helpful video from a local Fire Safe Camp Meeker volunteer, Kyle, on how to construct your chipper pile. He made this video for his own volunteer project, not the Safer West County Chipper Project, but it is full of good information on getting your piles ready to chip.

Piles must be ready prior to application submission. Once an application is received the piles will be inspected for compliance with the guidelines. Chipping may be denied, or corrections required if piles are not stacked or placed according to the guidelines, or if they contain prohibited materials (see below). If the piles are not ready by the time of the inspection, the application will be denied, and the applicant will have to reapply once the piles are ready. The crew can chip a pile of no more than 50 feet long, 3 feet tall, and 10 feet wide in about two hours. The crew may opt to return at a later date. Please be aware that the Fire Department crew will have to park not only the chipper but also a response vehicle. If a call comes in, they will leave the chipper, and return to it when it is possible. Please place your piles in a location that will allow them to do this.

Things that CAN go in your pile:

  • The chipper program is intended for trees and brush that are cut to create or maintain defensible space.
  • The chipper can handle trees or brush up to 4 inches in diameter and up to 10 feet long.
  • Freshly cut and stacked materials chip much better than old, dry wood. If your piles have been in place for a long time and/or contain a lot of old, dry material, our crews may not be able to chip them.

Things that CANNOT go in your pile:

  • No nails, wires, or any metal pieces!
  • No roots or stumps.
  • No poison oak or other poisonous species.
  • No vines or materials entangled with vines.
  • No oleander.
  • No bamboo or fibrous materials such as palm tree fronds.
  • No spiny plants, roses, or blackberries.
  • No Scotch/French broom or gorse.
  • No construction-type wood (Example: fence posts or 2x4s).
  • No rocks, dirt, and/or mud.
  • No piles of needles, leaves, and/or grass.
  • No fire debris, burned logs, branches, or trees from past fires.
  • No firewood or logs cut into wood rounds.
  • No wood older than a year.
  • You WILL be responsible for disposing of any unchipped materials.

Placement of Piles

Piles must be placed along a road or driveway frontage so that crews can work safely without the need for additional personnel, signage, or road closure permits. The crew will not chip piles that are more than 10 feet from an accessible road or driveway. The chipper cannot go up very steep slopes.

  • Do not place piles where they might block roadways or access.
  • Do not put piles within 10 feet of power poles.
  • The chipper and truck must be able to get to a place they can turn around.
  • There must be space to leave the chipper and tow vehicle if it is left behind when the Fire Department gets a call
  • Place piles within 10 feet of chipper access, preferably on the uphill side of the road or driveway. Crews should not have to drive off the driveway or work around obstructions.
  • If our chipper cannot access your piles, your pile won’t be chipped.
  • Disposal of any unchipped material is the responsibility of the property owner.
  • All material chipped will be blown back onto the property in a place the crew deems practical and safe. You are responsible for spreading out the piles of chips. Special accommodations for chip locations will be the determination of the chipping crew.
  • You do not have to be home when the chipper comes.
  • The crew has the right to deny chipper service when the application or service area is outside the scope of the program or does not meet the guidelines of the grant.

Stacking Your Piles

  • Piles must be no more than 3 feet tall, 10 feet wide, and with rows no longer than 50 feet.
  • The chipper can chip wood up to 10 feet long and 4 inches in diameter. It is quicker for the crew to chip one 10-foot branch than multiple short lengths. Materials should be between 4 feet long and 10 feet long if possible.
  • Piles must be stacked with the cut ends facing the same direction, pointing towards the access route, preferably on the uphill side.
  • Do not use large equipment, such as tractors or bobcats, to stack piles.