Fire safe councils

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Fire safe councils are grassroots community-based organizations which share the objective of making California's communities less vulnerable to catastrophic wildfire. Fire safe councils accomplish this objective through education programs and projects such as shaded fuel breaks or firebreaks to protect area residents against an oncoming wildfire and to provide fire fighters with a place to fight the oncoming fire. The first fire safe councils started in the early 1990s, and there are now over 100 around the state.)

An idealized county-wide fire safe council

(An exception to the grassroots formation is the California Fire Safe Council, Inc. (CFSCI). Since its incorporation in mid-2002, the primary role of the CFSCI has been to operate the Fire Safe California Grants Clearinghouse on behalf of the California Fire Alliance. Thus, in the rest of this article the true grassroots fire safe councils are referred to as "local fire safe councils" (FSCs) in order to distinguish them from the CFSCI.)

Local fire safe councils usually include representatives from:

The fire agency and local government representatives may be members of the FSC, or may serve in an advisory capacity, depending on local needs.

All fire safe councils are independent entities. Some are organized as non-profit 501(c)(3) corporations; others operate under a memorandum of understanding with a county, city, and/or local fire protection district; some have no formal structure at all.

Fire safe councils vary in focus. Some are county-wide, while others comprise only the Homeowner's Association in a subdivision, to all sizes in between. There are also several regional associations of fire safe councils.

While some fire safe councils have paid staff, such as an Executive Director, and may have grant funding for fuel reduction projects, all FSCs rely heavily on volunteers for much of their work.

The community-based approach to reducing wildfire risk is being implemented in other locations in the United States. The Nevada Fire Safe Council and FireSafe Montana are examples. Firewise Communities/USA are also community-based organizations focused on wildfire mitigation throughout the US, including California.

Contents

Evolution[edit]

The “Fire Safe” concept[edit]

The Operation Fire Safe wildfire prevention program was begun in 1968[1] by the State of California Resources Agency, Department of Conservation, Division of Forestry, (CDF or CAL FIRE) in response to changing wildfire conditions resulting from more and more homes being built in rural areas that were formerly wildland. (The term “Wildland Urban Interface”,[2] or WUI, is used to describe this area.)

Next, the Fire Safe! Inside and Out wildfire prevention campaign was developed in 1989 by Loren Poore, Chief of Fire Prevention with CDF.[3] This program created materials, including a video, a brochure,[4] and other items, to educate homeowners about implementing fire safe practices inside and outside the home. Defensible space began to become the catchword for protecting homes and wildlands in the WUI. At this time, most wildfire safety education was conducted by members of the CDF Volunteers in Prevention (VIP) program.[5]

The Oakland Firestorm of 1991 provided a new incentive to increase wildfire prevention education and activities, and CDF formed the Fire Safe Advisory Council, AKA the Fire Safe Council, which included insurance industry representatives, wildland firefighting agencies (such as the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM)), private industry, and the public.

The first fire safe councils[edit]

In the early 1990s, three organizations were formed that were precursors of what eventually became known as local, community-based Fire Safe Councils:

The 1993 Firestorm in Southern California was another major wildfire event. The losses in the Laguna Beach/Emerald Bay area alone made it one of the 10 largest-loss fires in U.S. history as of that date.[7] Residents of the Laguna Beach area formed three committees to deal with the losses as well as to prevent, or at least reduce, future losses.[8] These groups evolved into the present-day Greater Laguna Coast Fire Safe Council.

CDF support for fire safe councils[edit]

In support of the community-based efforts, CDF began including these local groups in its Fire Safe Council. The coalition was headed by the CDF Public Education Officer.[9] Sometime after 1996, as more and more communities started local Fire Safe Councils throughout the state, the Fire Safe Council became known as the California Fire Safe Council (CFSC). The CFSC was a precursor of the current California Fire Safe Council, Inc. (CFSCI).

Through the CFSC, CDF provided assistance to local fire safe councils via monthly meetings where local fire safe councils, and other organizations sharing the fire safe mission, could network; marketing literature such as a brochure; development of videos and Public Service Announcements; a handbook on how to form a Fire Safe Council; and other materials. Marketing support was provided under a contract with the public relations firm Manning Selvage & Lee, which had an office on K Street in Sacramento at the time.

This overall support from CDF ceased when the California Fire Safe Council, Inc. was formed as a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation in mid-2002. However, most individual CDF/CAL FIRE Units continue to work closely with their local area fire safe councils, often providing "in-kind" matching funds for grants as well as advice on fire safe projects.

The number of fire safe councils expands[edit]

With active support from CDF and its California Fire Safe Council coalition, more and more communities began forming local Fire Safe Councils. Expansion of the program accelerated after the Fire Safe Council of Nevada County (FSC/NC) received a Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) grant in 1998. One of the conditions of the WUI grant was that the Executive Director of the FSC/NC take an active role in assisting other communities to form Fire Safe Councils, and aid in their success.

Now, over 100 local Fire Safe Councils are active in California alone, with more forming all the time.

Networking for fire safe councils[edit]

Prior to the incorporation of the CFSCI, the California Fire Safe Council was the primary means of networking for local FSCs. After incorporation, the CFSCI continued to host the monthly meetings for local FSCs until November 2006, when budget constraints would no longer allow for the expense.

Local Fire Safe Council Network Yahoo Group[edit]

In order to provide a way to keep in touch, in 2006 an electronic group was set up on Yahoo! called the Local Fire Safe Council Network. This group continues to provide a valuable link among local FSCs and other organizations and agencies committed to making California's communities fire safe. Membership in the group can be requested by going to the group's web site and clicking on "Join this Group!". Prospective members should provide an indication of their affiliation with a local FSC or other organization/agency in their request to join.

Fire Safe Communities Association[edit]

In February 2011, the Fire Safe Communities Association was established to meet the need for statewide, or even nationwide, collaboration and support among grassroots fire safe organizations. The FSCA provides a broad public forum in which to identify common concerns and issues, share experiences, explore creative ideas, reduce overhead through shared capabilities, and propose, develop, and implement flexible solutions to reduce the wildfire hazard in local communities. Any grassroots organization involved with making their communities safe from wildfire may become a participant, and other organizations and individuals can identify themselves as supporters. The site includes a Forum capability on the "Connect" tab that allows for two-way communication and discussion.

Funding[edit]

Federal funding[edit]

Since 2000, the National Fire Plan and the subsequent Healthy Forests Initiative (HFI) have been the primary source of funding for fire safe councils to do fuel reduction projects on private lands. Currently, in California and Nevada these funds are administered by the California Fire Safe Council, Inc. (CFSCI) which operates the Fire Safe California Grants Clearinghouse on behalf of the California Fire Alliance. Funding is provided to the Grants Clearinghouse by the US Forest Service (USFS), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the National Park Service, and the Fish and Wildlife Service. In fiscal year 2008-2009, 119 projects throughout California and Nevada will be administered by the Grants Clearinghouse for a total of $13,159,683.[10] (Note that these agencies, notably the USFS, have other grant funding streams that do not go through the Clearinghouse.) Since there is a restriction by these funding sources that projects be "in the vicinity" of Federal lands (generally interpreted to mean within 1.5 miles unless otherwise specified by an approved Community Wildfire Protection Plan), many FSCs are not able to qualify. These programs are due to sunset in the next few years unless Congress takes action to renew them.

Beginning in 2001, Title II and Title III funds from the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act of 2000 (AKA "HR 2389") were another source of funds for FSCs in Counties that qualify for HR 2389 payments, especially for staff, operations, and education projects, as funds from the Grants Clearinghouse are generally not available for these functions. In FY 2008, the state of California received a total of $3,892,863 in Title II funds, and $6,888,856.96 in Title III. These funds were paid to Counties, and it was up to the Counties to decide how they are used. Many Counties used at least a portion of the funds for fire safe activities.

HR 2389 expired at the end of 2006, although Congress approved emergency extensions through 2008.

Then in December 2008, reauthorization of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act through 2012 was included in the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008. However, major changes were made to Title III which mean that not only has the available funding been significantly reduced, it can no longer be used to cover the administrative costs of fire safe councils. Several councils that depended on this funding to keep their doors open are now struggling to survive.

State funding[edit]

Prior to 2011, there was no statewide funding source specifically for fire safe projects, but there are two state programs that can be used by the FSCs fortunate to be located in the Counties that qualify. Both have a limited life span unless reauthorized by the State Legislature.

The Proposition 40, the California Clean Water, Clean Air, Safe Neighborhood Parks, and Coastal Protection Act of 2002, is operated on behalf of CAL FIRE by the Sierra Coordinated Resource Management Council (SCRMC), a Joint Powers Agreement with the Resource Conservation Districts in the 15 Counties covered by Prop 40. These funds can be used for fuel reduction projects on non-Federal lands by either government agencies or nonprofit organizations.

In 2006, voters passed Proposition 84, with funding appropriated to the Sierra Nevada Conservancy as part of the approved $5.4 billion in bonds to fund programs for safe water supply and quality, flood control, park improvements and natural resource protection. Since catastrophic wildfire is detrimental to water quality and to natural resources, some fire safe projects are eligible for funding from the Conservancy if they are located in the Sierra Nevada region.

In 2011, AB 29 became law and created a “fire prevention fee” for properties in the State responsibility areas (SRA) of California. A key provision of this law is that a portion of these monies are to be used for grants to Fire Safe Councils, among other organizations. Further, “grants shall be awarded to organizations within counties in direct proportion to the benefit fee paid by individual property owners in that county,” so this funding source should not experience the geographic imbalances shown by the grants awarded through the Fire Safe California Grants Clearinghouse.

On August 22, 2011 the Board of Forestry adopted emergency regulations for the initial implementation of the law. These will be followed by permanent regulations in the near future. The emergency regulations assign $25 from the annual fee on each property to go to the grants program.

As of August, 2011 it remains to be seen whether or not efforts to block implementation of the SRA fee will be successful.

All of the State and Federal funding sources described in this section require matching funds, either in the form of cash or "in kind", such as labor, materials, vehicles, etc. While not a formal program, most CAL FIRE units provide financial assistance to their local fire safe councils in the form of "in kind" matching funds for grants.

Other funding sources[edit]

Other sources of funds for fire safe councils are donations from the community, membership dues, grants from sources other than listed here, and funding from their County and/or City government. In addition, a percentage for administration is usually a component of any grants received, although these funds are restricted in that they can only be used an activities associated with the particular grant and must be accounted for to the funding agency.

Examples of fire safe council accomplishments[edit]

This section is not intended to be exhaustive, but rather to give a few examples of what has been accomplished by fire safe councils over the years. Most of these projects are funded by grants.

Special needs assistance[edit]

Many fire safe councils operate a program that assists people with special needs, such as seniors, low-income, and disabled persons, to create and maintain the defensible space around their home. Some examples are:

Free chipper program[edit]

One difficulty homeowners have with creating and maintaining defensible space is what to do with the vegetation once it is removed. To help with this, many fire safe councils provide free access to a chipper. Some examples are:

Defensible space inspection/education program[edit]

The purpose of these programs is to educate homeonwers as to what they need to do to create adequate defensible space and sometimes also give suggestions about modifications to make to the home itself to make it more resistant to wildfire. These are also called "dooryard visits" by some fire safe councils. These volunteers are trained by their local CAL FIRE Unit or their local Fire Protection District.

Fuel breaks[edit]

While defensible space protects homes from wildfire, firebreaks, also called fuel breaks, protect communities. These may also be referred to as "shaded fuel breaks". Fuel breaks are usually linear. The US Forest Service also uses the Strategically Placed Area Treatment (SPLAT) concept. SPLATs may be any shape. Many fuel breaks have been created by fire safe councils, using grant funding. Some examples are:

Community wildfire protection plan development[edit]

The Federal funding sources described in the section on Funding either require that projects be part of an approved Community Wildfire Protection Plan(CWPP), or give preference to such projects. In response, many FSCs have taken a proactive role in getting these plans developed and approved, even though this responsibility really resides with local government. A list of approved plans is available at Community Wildfire Protection Plans/CWPP Status.

A sampling of other projects[edit]

  • The Greater Laguna Coast Fire Safe Council Red Flag Program is designed to complement the official steps taken by the fire fighting professionals with the goal of providing a highly visible reminder to all citizens in the region to be extra careful and vigilant on the days when the Santa Ana winds blow.
  • The Fire Safe Council of Nevada County has published the Fire Wise Plants for Nevada County, which is distributed by a local nursery. The nursery reported a significant shift in the mix of plants people purchase.
  • A helpful tool for homeowners is a list of local contractors who do fuel reduction work. The Fire Safe Council of Nevada County maintains a Fuels Reduction Contractors List, and the El Dorado County Fire Safe Council has a Fuels Reduction Contractors List.
  • At the request of the Butte County Fire Safe Council, California State Assemblyman Rick Keene authored legislation (AB 1883) to streamline the process by which local Fire Safe Councils may contract with CAL FIRE to have inmate fire crews implement fuel reduction projects.[2] This bill became law on August 4, 2008.

Recognition of fire safe councils[edit]

Many fire safe councils, as well as individual contributors, have received recognition for their efforts to improve the ability for California’s communities to survive wildfire. Since it is impossible to list all of these, the following examples are offered in honor of all who have contributed to this important effort.

National recognition[edit]

  • In 2001, the Bronze Smokey Award was presented to the Fire Safe Council of Nevada County by the US Forest Service for providing outstanding public service in wildfire prevention.[3] The Bronze Smokey is the highest National honor given for community-based fire prevention work.
  • In 2004, Plumas County Fire Safe Council was recognized by the US Forest Service Chief with the Rural Community Assistance National Leadership Award for, “Outstanding accomplishments through their exceptional leadership, vision, and perseverance in working collaboratively to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire in Plumas County”.[6]
  • In 2005, Luana Dowling, Fire Chief for Iowa Hill and Chair of the Foresthill/Iowa Hill Fire Safe Council, received recognition from the US Forest Service for her success in obtaining funding for, and then implementing, various fuel reduction projects on USFS and BLM land near Foresthill and Iowa Hill.[7]

State recognition[edit]

  • In 2000, Laura Dyberg, President of the Mountain Rim Fire Safe Council in Southern California, was named Woman of the Year for the 31st Senate District of California by Senator Jim Brulte [8]
  • in 2007, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger included fire safe councils in his Executive Order S-07-07 as one of the resources available to CAL FIRE “to support a heightened level of fire prevention public awareness and education”[9]
  • In 2008, the California Legislature enacted a joint resolution, SCR 80 (Cogdill) recognizing that “local Fire Safe Councils work to educate communities, provide wildfire safety planning, fire prevention, and educational programs throughout the state and remain a critical component of statewide fire protection efforts.” [10]

Local recognition[edit]

  • In 2004, Robin Yonash, Founder of the Greater Colfax Area Fire Safe Council, received a commendation from the Placer County Board of Supervisors for promoting fire safety throughout Placer County.[12]
  • In 2006, the Fallbrook Fire Safe Council was honored as the Fire Safe Council of the Year for San Diego County for “its extraordinary efforts to improve fire safety in the community” by the North County Fire Protection District (NCFPD).[13]
  • In 2007, The Greater Auburn Area Fire Safe Council was awarded the Citizen Outstanding Service Award by the Placer County Fire Chief's Association. The citizen-lead Greater Auburn Area Fire Safe Council was recognized for working hand-in-hand with local and state fire agencies in Auburn, Newcastle and Penryn, in identifying ways to educate residents on protecting their families and homes from wildfire.[17]
  • In 2007, Janice Fast, a longtime member, staunch supporter and volunteer of the Mountain Communities Fire Safe Council was awarded the Mountain Communities Fire Safe Council's first "Citizen of the Year" award.[18]
  • The Carbon Canyon Fire Safe Council received a Good Neighbor Award from the American Red Cross Inland Valley Chapter for community disaster preparedness efforts. [year unknown][20]
  • In December 2008, Robert "Bobcat" Dobbel was recognized by the Yosemite Foothills Fire Safe Council as the first recipient of the "Volunteer of the Year" for his dedication and efforts on several fire safe projects in Southern Tuolumne and Northern Mariposa counties. (20)

Relationship with the California Fire Safe Council, Inc.[edit]

As described earlier in this article, initially fire safe councils throughout the state, with support from CDF staff and other organizations that shared the fire safe mission, comprised the California Fire Safe Council (CFSC).

However, with the incorporation of the California Fire Safe Council, Inc. (CFSCI) in mid-2002, the old inclusive CFSC disappeared and was replaced by a non-membership 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation. The CFSCI Board of Directors and its staff comprise the CFSCI. Local fire safe councils are no longer members and have minimal impact on, or knowledge of, decisions made by the CFSCI. The CFSCI is simply one more entity among the over 100 independent organizations that focus on wildfire safety throughout the state of California. It has a somewhat different function from local FSCs in that its primary role is to administer the Grants Clearinghouse on behalf of the California Fire Alliance.

Inaccuracies about the role and function of the California Fire Safe Council, Inc.[edit]

It appears that the CFSCI has not realized that a transition occurred when it was formed, as its members continue to make assertions that applied to the old CFSC, but are no longer accurate. The following examples, taken from CFSCI Chairman Bruce Turbeville's presentation to the Governor's Blue Ribbon Fire Commission, and from the Fire Safe Council Brochure, retrieved on September 16, 2008 are illustrative.

The corrections below are not intended to detract from the valuable service provided by the CFSCI in its administration of the Grants Clearinghouse. They simply indicate that the thinking of the CFSCI has not kept current with the changes that occurred when the CFSCI was formed.

"Ten years ago, CDF formed the California Fire Safe Council. … We believe we’ve been very successful. The Council is independent of CDF."

  • The current CFSCI began when it was incorporated in mid-2002, which is when the previous CFSC, as a confederation of local councils, CDF staff, and other organizations supporting the fire safe mission, ceased to exist. The CFSCI was not formed by CDF, is not the same organization as the former CFSC, and should not claim a common history or take credit for results of the previous organization.

"We are the statewide umbrella organization that supports community fire safety efforts and creates consensus on fire safety among diverse audiences. In California, we are the community-level cooperators implementing the National Fire Plan."

  • The CFSCI is not statewide. It is a business with headquarters in Glendora, California.
  • The CFSCI is not an umbrella for anything. It is an independent business. In particular, it is not a parent organization of the more than 100 local fire safe councils in California and Nevada.
  • The CFSCI does not create consensus among diverse audiences. This was true of the former CFSC, but not of the CFSCI. The CFSCI consists of a Board of Directors and some staff. The list of organizations at Who Comprises The Fire Safe Council? is leftover from the old CFSC.
  • The CFSCI is not a "community level cooperator." It is the local fire safe councils which operate at the community level.
  • The CFSCI does not implement the National Fire Plan. It channels funding to the local FSCs, who are the implementers on private lands, while the Federal agencies implement the NFP on Federal lands.

"Our local Councils…"

  • The local fire safe councils are not the property of the CFSCI.

"The Fire Safe Council is a coalition of public and private sector organizations that share a common, vested interest in reducing losses from wildfire.

  • The current CFSCI is not a coalition. It is an independent non-membership 501(c)(3) business.
  • Calling the CFSCI "the" Fire Safe Council is an affront to all of the local fire safe councils in California and Nevada.

"The Fire Safe Council empowers communities to become fire safe."

  • It is the local community-based fire safe councils that empower their communities.

Exclusion of local fire safe councils from the process[edit]

The California Fire Safe Council, Inc. bylaws do not allow for direct participation by local fire safe councils. Thus, the primary of information about the activities and decisions of the CFSCI is to attend the public portion of its quarterly Board of Directors meetings. In general, this is not feasible for local FSCs due to the travel involved, so they must depend on the meeting minutes.

Minutes of the Board meetings are supposed to be posted in a timely manner to the CFSCI web site. However, as of September 2008, minutes for half of the Board meetings were either incomplete or missing altogether. Further, much of the CFSCI business is conducted in "executive session," which are closed to the public, and the minutes do not list the topics discussed or the decisions reached.

While the CFSCI is not subject to the Brown Act, hopefully it will start to operate that way in the interests of open and transparent communication with the local fire safe councils, since many of its actions and decisions impact local councils. And hopefully it will start to actively include representatives of local councils on its committees.

Firewise and Firewise Communities/USA[edit]

Like fire safe councils, Firewise and the national Firewise Communities/USA program are designed to reach beyond the fire service by involving homeowners, community leaders, planners, developers, and others in the effort to protect people, property, and natural resources from the risk of wildland fire - before a fire starts. Fire safe councils and Firewise Communities/USA both emphasize community responsibility for planning in the design of a safe community as well as effective emergency response, and individual responsibility for safer home construction and design, landscaping, and maintenance.

The national Firewise Communities/USA program, part of the National Wildland/Urban Interface Fire Program sponsored by the Wildland/Urban Interface Working Team, is intended to serve as a resource for agencies, tribes, organizations, fire departments, and communities across the U.S. who are working toward a common goal: reduce loss of lives, property, and resources to wildland fire by building and maintaining communities in a way that is compatible with our natural surroundings.

The Firewise Communities/USA program differs from fire safe councils in that the Firewise program is nationwide while fire safe councils are mainly in California and Nevada. Outside of California and Nevada, where the concept of local fire safe councils are not well developed, Firewise Communities are the major community-based organizational structure.

The two approaches to motivating community members to take responsibility for preparing their communities to be better able to survive a wildfire are very compatible. The major difference between the two methods is that in order to be certified as a Firewise Community, the entire community must be involved, including financially, whereas fire safe councils, especially those that are 501(c)(3) organizations, can operate with a much smaller level of individual participation. Also, fire safe councils often implement projects which go beyond a single community, such as shaded fuel breaks.

The Firewise Communities in California are usually chapters of a county-wide fire safe council, but they can function independently if that best serves the community.

Firewise offers a wide range of resources, including the Firewise Catalog, where materials can be ordered simply for the cost of shipping.

In 2009, the California Fire Safe Council, Inc. began exploring taking over the role of Firewise liaison in California from CAL FIRE.[11] If the CFSCI succeeds in this effort, the impact on Firewise and Firewise Communities in California is unknown, but the concentration of power is a potential concern.

How to Start a Fire Safe Council[edit]

Local fire safe councils (FSCs) are spread throughout California and Nevada. This article is about how to form a local fire safe council in California. For information on forming a local FSC in Nevada, see the Nevada Fire Safe Council.

Background[edit]

Fire safe councils are grassroots community-based organizations which share the objective of making California's communities less vulnerable to catastrophic wildfire. Fire safe councils accomplish this objective through education programs and projects such as shaded fuel breaks or firebreaks to protect area residents against an oncoming wildfire and to provide fire fighters with a place to fight the oncoming fire. The first fire safe councils started in the early 1990s, and there are now over 100 around the state.

Local fire safe councils usually include representatives from:

The fire agency and local government representatives may be members of the FSC, or may serve in an advisory capacity, depending on local needs.

All fire safe councils are independent entities. Some are organized as non-profit 501(c)(3) corporations; others operate under a memorandum of understanding with a County, City, and/or local fire protection district; some have no formal structure at all.

Fire safe councils vary in focus. Some are county-wide, while others comprise only the Homeowner's Association in a subdivision, to all sizes in between. There are also several regional associations of fire safe councils.

While some fire safe councils have paid staff, such as an Executive Director, and may have grant funding for fuel reduction projects, all FSCs rely heavily on volunteers for much of their work.

Alternatives to a fire safe council[edit]

A local fire safe council may or may not be the best approach to meet your community's needs. Here are two alternatives to consider.

Form a Firewise Community/USA[edit]

If you are working with a small community, or something like a Homeowners Association, Becoming a Recognized Firewise Community/USA might be a better fit than a fire safe council.

Create a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)[edit]

The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program is operated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA. While CERT is primarily focused on disaster response, many CERT groups also participate in pre-disaster mitigation projects.

CERT "educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. Using the training learned in the classroom and during exercises, CERT members can assist others in their neighborhood or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help. CERT members also are encouraged to support emergency response agencies by taking a more active role in emergency preparedness projects in their community."

To find out if your area has a CERT, or to start a CERT, check with your city or county Office of Emergency Services.

Before you start[edit]

Get yourself educated[edit]

The first step is to get yourself knowledgeable about wildfire and how to prepare your home and community to survive one. There are many resources available on this topic. Some are listed in the Resources section below.

Network with other fire safe councils[edit]

Local Fire Safe Council Network Yahoo group[edit]

The Local Fire Safe Council Network is an online support group whose purpose is "to facilitate communication among California's local Fire Safe Councils, along with the agencies and other organizations and persons who share their vision, as they work toward a fire safe California." You can join the group by going to the home page and clicking on 'Join this group." Once you join, you can ask questions and share your results with other fire safe councils.

Fire Safe Communities Association[edit]

Become a participating organization in the Fire Safe Communities Association (FSCA) by submitting the name of your organization using the Contact form on the FSCA web site. Use the Mailing List tab to add your name to the FSCA mailing list. Take advantage of the Forum capability on the Connect tab to ask questions, offer tips, and/or engage in discussions with other grassroots fire safe organizations.

Find out if a fire safe organization already exists[edit]

Most counties in California have at least one fire safe council, and many have a county-wide FSC. To find out what exists in your county, contact your local fire agency or county office of emergency services. You can also check the list of fire safe councils in the Wikipedia article about fire safe councils or the California Fire Safe Council web site.

If you find that there is already a fire safe council in your county, contact them before proceeding so that you don't duplicate their efforts and so that they can provide you with support.

Connect with your local fire agency[edit]

It is very important to coordinate your activities with your local fire agency. Is your area covered by a formal Fire Protection District or a city Fire Department? If so, arrange to meet with the Chief and/or the Fire Marshal to let him/her know what you are planning. If not, find out what fire agency is responsible for your area. It may be a county agency, or CAL FIRE, or perhaps a Federal agency such as the US Forest Service or the Bureau of Land Management. Once you have determined that, arrange to meet with the Fire Chief or Battalion Chief about your plans.

Connect with the Office of Emergency Services for your city/county[edit]

In addition, find out who is the head of your city or county's Office of Emergency Services, and meet with him/her as well. Find out if your county has a Community Wildfire Protection Plan and if so, how your fire safe council can assist with implementation. Also find out about your city or county Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan and how you can participate in carrying out the plan.

[edit]

The fire safe council logo, as seen in this article, is available for downloading at http://www.firesafecouncil.org/education/digitallogos.cfm. No permission is needed to use it.

Publicity[edit]

Getting the word out about your Fire Safe Council meetings and projects doesn't have to be expensive. Here are some ideas:

  • Post flyers on community bulletin boards
  • Write Letters to the Editor for your local paper
  • Contact your local cable company to find out how to get items on the community channel
  • Submit a press release to your local paper or radio station (see How to Write a Press Release for tips on effective media contact)
  • Most newspapers have a free calendar section—find out how to get items included
  • Contact your local radio station about community announcements
  • Local schools might be willing to send a flyer home with their students, say for a neighborhood chipper day
  • Create a Facebook and/or Twitter account
  • Create a web page (see below)

Web site development[edit]

Setting up a web site doesn't can be done for very little money, or even for free. There are many resources available to assist with this.

Funding[edit]

There are various sources of funding, although it doesn't necessarily take a lot of money to make a big difference in how well prepared your community is for wildfire. Many worthwhile projects can be implemented with little or no cost, as listed below. You local fire agency or city or county may have some funds for copying, or you may be able to get donations from service clubs, insurance agencies, or the community. For larger projects, grant funding may be necessary.

Inexpensive projects[edit]

Education is a major element in wildfire preparation. Here are some ideas:

  • Write articles and/or Letters to the Editor for your local newspaper
  • Speak at meetings, such as service clubs (include a representative from your local fire agency)
  • Do homeowner assessments in neighborhoods
  • Work with a local garden club to plant a Firewise demonstration garden (see the Resources section below for lists of plants)
  • Organize Coffee Klatches about preparation for wildfire at people's homes
  • Organize chipper days in neighborhoods, if your county has a free chipper program
  • Work with a local building supply business to sponsor an event where people can learn about upgrades to make their homes more fire safe
  • Work with local veterinarians and pet stores to offer handouts on pet and livestock evacuation preparation

Federal Grants[edit]

Most Federal funding for fire safe projects is administered through the Fire Safe California Grants Clearinghouse. The Clearinghouse features "one-stop shopping" in that a single Concept Paper is submitted for each proposed project and then the Clearinghouse routes it to all qualified Federal funding sources, including the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Park Service.

The call for proposals is generally open once a year from mid-December through mid-February. To get on the notification list, go to http://www.firesafecouncil.org/ and subscribe to the FSC E-Newsletter with your e-mail address.

Other funding sources[edit]

Other sources of funds for fire safe councils are donations from the community, membership dues, grants from sources other than listed here, and funding from their County and/or City government. In addition, a percentage for administration is usually a component of any grants received, although these funds are restricted in that they can only be used an activities associated with the particular grant and must be accounted for to the funding agency.

Should you form a 501(c)(3) non-profit?[edit]

Most funding sources require that the recipients be organized as some sort of non-profit organization. There are many types of non-profit, but the one most available to local FSCs is the 501(C)(3) Non-profit corporation. There are many pros and cons to forming your own non-profit. For more information on doing this, see the Resources section below. Another alternative is to use existing non-profits to administer your funds.

Use fiscal sponsors instead[edit]

There are many organizations already in existence which qualify as non-profits for administering grant funds. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Other fire safe councils
  • Resource Conservation Districts
  • Economic Development Districts
  • Fire Protection Districts
  • County government
  • Some Homeowner's Associations
  • Some community service organizations

Resources[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Operation FIRE SAFE!, State of California Resources Agency, Department of Conservation, Division of Forestry, 1968
  2. ^ “Wildland Urban Interface”
  3. ^ Two Longtime CDFers Retire from Fire Prevention, CDF Communiqué, January/February 1994
  4. ^ "Fire Safe Inside and Out Brochure"
  5. ^ a b California--The Flammable State, Richard A. Wilson, Director of CDF, CDF Comment, July 1994, retrieved on March 18, 2008
  6. ^ 200 Years of History Uninterrupted By Progress, Steve Kennedy, The Cannonball Express, retrieved on March 18, 2008
  7. ^ Five Years Later, Laguna Becomes Model for Fire Safety; From the Front Lines of 1993 Firestorm to the Forefront of Fire Safety, Business Wire, October 16, 1998
  8. ^ Personal Profile, David Horne, PhD., retrieved on March 18, 2008
  9. ^ "California’s I-Zone: Urban Wildland Fire Prevention and Mitigation", CDF Office of the State Fire Marshal, 1996
  10. ^ [1]
  11. ^ CFSCI Board of Directors Meeting May 29, 2009, retrieved on June 26, 2010

External links[edit]

California community-based fire safe councils[edit]

(Last updated March 5, 2011)

This is a list of past and current fire safe councils in California. For FSCs in Nevada, see the Nevada Fire Safe Council. For FSCs in Montana, see FireSafe Montana. For a list of Firewise Communities, go to Firewise Communities/USA.

Alameda[edit]

Alpine[edit]

Amador[edit]

Butte[edit]

Calaveras[edit]

  • Calaveras Foothills Fire Safe Council
  • Sierra Highway 4 Fire Safe Council

Colusa[edit]

Contra Costa[edit]

Del Norte[edit]

  • Del Norte Fire Safe Council

El Dorado[edit]

Fresno[edit]

Glenn[edit]

  • Tehama-Glenn Fire Safe Council

Humboldt[edit]

Imperial[edit]

Inyo[edit]

  • Aspendell Fire Safe Council
  • Lone Pine Fire Safe Council
  • Eastern Sierra Regional Fire Safe Council
  • South Fork Bishop Creek Fire Safe Council

Kern[edit]

Kings[edit]

Lake[edit]

Lassen[edit]

Los Angeles[edit]

Madera[edit]

Marin[edit]

Mariposa[edit]

Mendocino[edit]

Merced[edit]

Modoc[edit]

  • Modoc Fire Safe Council

Mono[edit]

Monterey[edit]

  • Big Sur Fire Safe Council
  • Highlands Community Fire Safe Committee
  • Monterey Fire Safe Council
  • Monterey-San Benito Range Improvement Association Wildland Fire Safe Council

Napa[edit]

Nevada[edit]

Orange[edit]

Placer[edit]

Plumas[edit]

Riverside[edit]

Sacramento[edit]

San Benito[edit]

San Bernardino[edit]

San Diego[edit]

  • Banner Fire Safe Council
  • Barrett Junction/Dulzura Fire Safe Council
  • Birch Bluff Fire Safe Council – see Greater Scripps Ranch Fire Safe Council
  • Campo/Lake Morena Fire Safe Council
  • Carveacre Fire Safe Council
  • Chihuahua Valley/Sunshine Summit Fire Safe Council
  • Chimney Canyon Fire Safe Council – see Scripps Ranch Fire Safe Council
  • Chula Vista – see Rice Canyon/Chula Vista Fire Safe Council
  • Corte Madera Fire Safe Council
  • Crest Fire Safe Council
  • Crown Hills Fire Safe Council – see Greater Alpine Fire Safe Council
  • Cuyamaca Woods Fire Safe Council
  • Deer Springs Fire Safe Council
  • Descanso Fire Safe Council
  • Dulzura/Barnett Fire Safe Council
  • Eastglen Fire Safe Council – see Greater Scripps Ranch Fire Safe Council
  • Encanto Fire Safe Council
  • Fallbrook Fire Safe Council
  • Fire Safe Council of San Diego County
  • Greater Alpine Fire Safe Council
  • Greater Julian Fire Safe Council
  • Greater Mountain Empire Fire Safe Council
  • Greater Valley Center Fire Safe Council
  • Greater Vista Fire Safe Council
  • Harbinson Canyon Fire Safe Council – see Greater Alpine Fire Safe Council
  • Harrison Park Fire Safe Council
  • Ironwood Fire Safe Council – see Greater Scripps Ranch Fire Safe Council
  • Japatul Valley Fire Safe Council – see Greater Alpine Fire Safe Council
  • Julian Estates Fire Safe Council
  • Kentwood Fire Safe Council
  • Kentwood II Fire Safe Council
  • Lake Hodges FireSafe Council
  • Lake Morena – see Campo/Lake Morena Fire Safe Council
  • Loire Valley Fire Safe Council – see Greater Scripps Ranch Fire Safe Council
  • Los Tules Fire Safe Council
  • Miramar Ranch Fire Safe Council – see Greater Scripps Ranch Fire Safe Council
  • Miro Circle Fire Safe Council – see Greater Scripps Ranch Fire Safe Council
  • Moselle Fire Safe Council – see Greater Scripps Ranch Fire Safe Council
  • Mt. Laguna Fire Safe Council
  • North Pomerado Fire Safe Council – see Greater Scripps Ranch Fire Safe Council
  • Outer Jamul Fire Safe Council
  • Palomar Mountain Fire Safe Council
  • Peutz Valley Fire Safe Council – see Greater Alpine Fire Safe Council
  • Pine Valley Fire Safe Council
  • Potrero Fire Safe Council
  • Ramona-West End Fire Safe Council
  • Ranches of Palo Verde Fire Safe Council – see Greater Alpine Fire Safe Council
  • Ranchita Fire Safe Council
  • Rancho Bernardo Fire Safe Council
  • Rancho of Palos Verdes Fire Safe Council – see Greater Alpine Fire Safe Council
  • Rancho Penasquitos Fire Safe Council
  • Rancho Santa Fe Fire Safe Council
  • Rice Canyon-Chula Vista Fire Safe Council
  • San Miguel Regional Fire Safe Council
  • Scripps Ranch Fire Safe Council
  • Sherilton Valley Fire Safe Council
  • Stone Ridge at Warner Springs Estates Fire Safe Council
  • Sunshine Summit – see Chihuahua Valley/Sunshine Summit Fire Safe Council
  • Talmadge Fire Safe Council
  • Tierrasanta Fire Safe Council
  • Valley Center Fire Safe Council
  • Viejas Indian Reservation Fire Safe Council
  • Whispering Pines Fire Safe Council
  • Whispering Ridge Central Fire Safe Council – see Greater Scripps Ranch Fire Safe Council
  • Whispering Ridge South Fire Safe Council – see Greater Scripps Ranch Fire Safe Council
  • Wide Valley Fire Safe Council – see Greater Scripps Ranch Fire Safe Council
  • Wine Country (San Diego County) Fire Safe Council – see Greater Scripps Ranch Fire Safe Council
  • Woodcrest Hills Fire Safe Council
  • Wood Roof Fire Safe Council – see Greater Scripps Ranch Fire Safe Council
  • Wynola Fire Safe Council

San Francisco[edit]

San Joaquin[edit]

San Luis Obispo[edit]

  • Cambria Fire Safe Council
  • San Luis Obispo County Fire Safe Council

San Mateo[edit]

Santa Barbara[edit]

  • Santa Barbara County Fire Safe Council

Santa Clara[edit]

Santa Cruz[edit]

Shasta[edit]

Sierra[edit]

Siskiyou[edit]

Solano[edit]

Sonoma[edit]

Stanislaus[edit]

Sutter[edit]

Tahoe Basin[edit]

  • Tahoe Basin Fire Safe Council

Tehama[edit]

  • Tehama-Glenn Fire Safe Council

Trinity[edit]

Tulare[edit]

  • Tulare County Fire Safe Council
  • Upper Tule Fire Safe Council

Tuolumne[edit]

Ventura[edit]

Yolo[edit]

Yuba[edit]