You have one hour to evacuate . . . are you ready to “GO?”
This was the focus of the third of the “Ready,” “Set” and “Go” events sponsored by the Cool-Pilot Hill Fire Safe Council on Wednesday, September 21, 2016. This event featured Supervisor Michael Ranalli, Sergeant Todd Hammitt (El Dorado County Office of Emergency Services), Brandon McKay (Captain, Deputy Fire Marshal El Dorado County Fire District), and Georgetown Fire Chief, Greg Schwab.
Even though El Dorado County is welcoming the “end” of fire season, 2016, presenters emphasized the need for residents in the Cool-Pilot Hill communities to increase fire safety awareness and take steps to reduce fuel sources for wild land fires during the Fall and Winter months. Any residents that live adjacent to wildland are faced with challenges unique to open areas. Supervisor Ranalli noted that tree mortality is a major concern for our county; failure to address this issue can impact both property values and the ability of residents to obtain homeowner’s insurance. Additionally, maintenance of county roads is a priority – currently over 3 million dollars are available in grant funds to address county roads characterized by excessive growth and falling/dead trees.
The primary question addressed by Sergeant Todd Hammitt was: What do residents do when they hear the word to “GO?” Sergeant Hammitt noted that the biggest issue that fire safety personnel face is protecting property and animals. The best advice is to have a plan for family and animal/pet evacuation. The Code Red program is an advisory system that notifies residents in voluntary and mandatory evacuation areas. Sergeant Hammitt urged community participants to sign up for the Code Red Program if they have not already done so (see El Dorado County Sheriff’s website for information on Code Red).
Once a fire begins to move the first on the scene is the fire personnel. Usually an Emergency Operations Center is set up in the Placerville Sheriff’s Office (Level One). Level Two involves bringing the necessary equipment into position to fight the fire. Level Three involves more intensive organization and coordination of fire safety and firefighting efforts. Supervisor Ranalli noted that El Dorado County received “high marks” regarding the seamless coordination between all levels of fire and safety personnel employed during the recent Trailhead Fire.
Captain and Deputy Fire Marshal (El Dorado County Fire District), Brandon McKay, also noted the importance of following the directions of fire and safety personnel during wildland fire events. Evacuation orders – whether voluntary or mandatory – are initiated for community safety. He commented that residents who fail to evacuate when advised to do so add additional risk to themselves, fire and safety personnel. Best advice? Make sure house numbers can be clearly read and make every effort to provide “defensible space” around your home. Residents should work with fire safety personnel, not create barriers to inhibit their ability to protect property and lives!
The mission of the Cool-Pilot Hill Fire Safe Council is to increase awareness of fire safety in our communities. Please consider joining our efforts!
Keep Cool-Pilot Hill Fire Safe!