Susan Rogers: Fire safety isn’t free
March 27, 2018
Now that it's finally been raining, it's easy to think that we won't have a drought this year and that fire season won't be so bad.
These late, steady rains contribute to an extra-heavy overgrowth of vegetation that, along with the regular seasonal growth, will dry out at the end of summer and add to the already-heavy fuel load.
Fire agency managers talk about a "new normal" with intense, fast-moving fires fueled by underbrush from the five-year drought. That brush is still out there, dead, and dry, just waiting to explode.
Are you prepared for what's to come? Because it's not a matter of "if" we will get a large wildfire in western Nevada County, it's a matter of when.
If you've been paying any attention at all, you've heard of the Fire Safe Council of Nevada County, the nonprofit formed in 1998 by citizens concerned about the very high potential for catastrophic wildfire in our communities and adjacent forestland.
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The purpose of the Fire Safe Council is to work to reduce the risk of life and property loss from wildfire. This means your life, and your home.
The Council is constantly seeking public and private funding to provide a wide range of programs and services for property owners. It educates the public (that's you) to help you understand the high potential for fire devastation, and provides information to help you, your neighbors and every other resident of this county prepare for the next wildfire event.
The Council has accomplished great things with a very small staff (two paid employees). The executive director, Joanne Drummond, has won national awards for her outstanding work. Even more could be done if funding were available to hire additional staff, but where will that money come from? Fire Safe Council funding comes from individual donations and from grants for specific projects (plus a small amount of support from the County).
Granting agencies require that their funds be matched with community donations that support its programs. Every dollar the Council receives from individual donations can be matched to help meet the requirements for critical grant funding for fire prevention.
What does this mean to you?
It means that if you genuinely want to reduce the risk of wildfire in Nevada County — wildfire that could burn down your house even if you live in a city neighborhood (remember what happened in Santa Rosa) — you can, and should, support the Fire Safe Council with some bucks of your own.
There are two easy ways to do that.
The first is to become a member of the Fire Safe Council. I bet you didn't know you could support the council simply by becoming a member, just like you can join the Bear Yuba Land Trust or the Center for the Arts!
A Personal Membership is only $39 per year. For $10 more, you could become a Sustaining Member, and receive priority scheduling for chipping services.
An Association Membership is for a group of people along a private road who want to clear the road for safer evacuation and then have their piles chipped shortly after completing the work. You will get a chipping consultant who can tell you about county fire road standards, defensible space along the road, and how to properly place your chipping piles. Association members can borrow safety signs, cones, vests, and supplies from the council to use while clearing the space along the roadway.
To join the Fire Safe Council, visit http://www.AreYouFireSafe.com and click "Get Involved" on the top green navigation bar.
The second way to support wildfire safety is to attend the upcoming Culinary Adventure on Friday, April 6 at the Miners Foundry. Enjoy flavors from around the globe paired with local wines and craft beers. Add music and a silent auction, and it all raises funds for the Fire Safe Council of Nevada County.
There's still time to become an Individual, Supporting, or Event Sponsor. Or buy a table for yourself and seven friends, or just get your own tickets for $75 each (until March 30 — $80 after that). Details are at http://www.AreYouFireSafe.com — click "2018 Culinary Adventure" on the home page. It's more casual than most of these affairs, so come on out and have a good time.
Our local Coalition of Firewise Communities supports the work of the Fire Safe Council, and our slogan is, "Fire is Everyone's Fight." How much is fire safety and prevention worth to you?
Susan Rogers is vice chair of the Coalition of Firewise Communities and a member of The Union's Editorial Board. Her opinions are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Coalition, the Editorial Board or its members. She can be reached at EditBoard@theunion.com.