Chat with Chief Don Wagner |

Chat with Chief Don Wagner

Virginia Gompertz

When it comes to wildfire, what does the fire department need from private citizens?

“Mark your addresses with 4-inch reflective numbers so that we can find you in darkness,” advises Penn Valley Fire Chief Don Wagner. Precious moments matter in an emergency, whether the first responders are an ambulance, police or fire department.

You can make the sign yourself or order the reflective sign from the NC Fire Safe Council: go to, and click on “Address Signs.” The sign and metal pole (metal doesn’t burn as easily as wood) are less than $50.

Chief Wagner also reminds citizens to create defensible space along private roads: maintain 10 feet back and 15 feet vertically. “This allows fire trucks to get in your neighborhood safely while you are getting out.”

During Red Flag Warning Days, “put the weed eaters away – one less spark,” Captain Wagner says. Get your Go Bags ready, perform last minute evac preparedness around your home (rake leaves/pine needles, put anything flammable such as seat cushions away). Keep your car fueled and facing out. Take go bags with you: “If an evacuation is called and you are out of the area, you probably won’t be able to get back to your home,” Captain Wagner warns.

Thank you for the great advice, Captain Wagner, and thank you for your great service to our community!

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