A Regional Challenge
The Fire Foundation, in meeting its mission of strengthening the system of fire and emergency services, has several key issues in San Diego County.
1. On a day-to-day basis there is a need to better equip and train our volunteer fire departments, which protect 60% of our County, so they can provide the same level of medical and fire service found in our urbanized areas. There are two challenges in addressing this issue:
- Funding is a major issue with very little property tax basis and only $30,000 year from the County.
- Maintaining a cadre of trained and experienced volunteer firefighters, as most volunteers firefighters leave within two years to become career firefighters at a paid fire department.
2. For those once in every 5-10 year firestorms, such as in 1970, 2003 and 2007, the issue is being able to effectively respond with all 250 fire stations in the County to these firestorms, often with several large fires burning simultaneously with 80 mph winds, while still providing day-to-day services for medical and other emergencies, as people still get sick or injured and other fires will occur during the major fires. To meet this need, all fire departments must have reserve fire engines, equipment and firefighters.
3. Providing information and resources, so citizens can take responsibility for their own well-being. This involves taking actions to prevent emergencies and being able to react to an emergency even if a firefighter or medic is not immediately available to assist you.
Here are things citizens can do:
- Make their property fire-safe by clearing brush and creating a defensible space.
- Make sure their driveways are wide enough and clear of overhanging trees and brush so emergency vehicles can get to the home.
- Have good, reflective address signs.
- Have an evacuation plan in case of emergencies for family, pets and prized possessions. You need to have two ways out of your home and out of your neighborhood safely.
- Have water, food and needed supplies to safely survive in place.
- Have adequate insurance and inventories of possessions and their cost. Being under insured was a major problem after the 2003 and 2007 fires.
- Keep informed during emergencies to know what is going on and how you might be impacted, especially if you might need to evacuate.