Fire Safe Councils and the Community

In times of disaster, communities often band together for safety and aid. Sadly, one of the key events that lead to the formation of fire safety councils in California was one such disaster. That was 1993's terrible firestorm in Laguna Beach. It started one fine October day with a fire deliberately lit in a crime that is still unsolved. By that evening, more than 400 homes were destroyed, over 14,000 acres burned and in total there were losses of $528M. Containing the fire took the cooperation of law enforcement, fire groups and other communities. The Laguna Beach Fire was remembered as one of the ten most damaging fires in the US when it happened. But thanks to the efforts of many, not a single life was lost.

In the wake of the disaster, Laguna Beach residents formed committees to deal with the losses and to prevent future losses. Around the same time, organizations began to form with the goal of protecting the locals from wildfire. The so-called fire safe councils were mostly made of volunteers. They aimed to share knowledge and foster fire prevention and safety. Over a decade later, there are now over 150 fire safe councils in the state. These range from large to small and usually have spokespersons from the local fire department, government, and the business community.

If you want to make a difference, why not join your local fire safe council? You don't have to be a fireman to be able to fight fire. It's all about neighbors helping neighbors prepare for the next disaster or even prevent it from happening. Here are some examples of projects you could work on in a fire safe council:

  • Home inspections
  • Visits are made to individual homes to show residents what they can do to fire-proof their home. Homeowners are taught about creating a "defensible space" around their home so that wildfires do not spread easily.

  • Firebreaks
  • Firebreaks are similar to defensible space but cover a larger area, protecting whole communities. These are large tracts of land where wildfires are starved of fuel. Volunteers work for thousands of hours removing dead trees and other potential fuel. Usually, these projects are funded by grants.

  • Wood chipping
  • Some councils provide free wood chipping services. Chippers go around the neighborhood, turning shrubs and branches into small piles of chips. The chips are left on the properties. This reduces their potential as fuel.

  • Special needs assistance
  • Some people, like the elderly, disabled or those with low income, need help creating defensible space around their home. Fire safe councils can help those with special needs to protect themselves.

    No one wants to live through another nightmare like the Laguna Beach fire. But although it was a terrible event, it was a reminder that safety is not something that should be taken for granted. More than that, it showed what was possible if people worked together. Through fire safe councils, volunteers have found a way help to save themselves.

    Site Supporters:

    Find out how to Keep Your Home Safe from Wildfire. If you are interested in being a Firefighter or know about Firefighter Recruitment, read this.