Atascadero City Manager, Rachelle Rickard

by Debbie Arnold, SLO County Board of Supervisors

This month the Board of Supervisors approved the Strategic Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP), an important planning document for the prevention and response to fires should our region experience a wildland urban interface fire. This document will be used as a portion of our mandatory local hazard mitigation plan required by FEMA for grants, as well as the county safety element that is required by the state for land use planning.

We know that late summer and fall months can be a high-risk time for wildfire in our county. The plan maps out the areas of high risk throughout the county, noting that often we see large fires follow the same pattern as past fires. The plan includes historical maps with information. It also recognizes two kinds of wildland urban interface areas. In some areas there is a hard boundary line where open space comes right up to the city or village boundaries. In other parts of the county, cities are surrounded with rural residential areas. The plan for either example includes the value of creating defensible space. Often times landscaping can be flammable if intense heat is close and fire professionals countywide continue to educate residents on how to create defensible space.

The CWPP also recognizes that flying embers during an intense wildland fire can land in urban areas and create structure fires. The plan speaks to the benefit of fire-resistant materials for building within high fire risk areas.

This plan was written by the SLO County Fire Safe Council, with input from many other agencies. The SLO County Fire Safe Council has been successful in bringing millions of dollars into the county the past few years to do fire prevention work. Many projects have been completed and many are in process. These projects include fuel reduction along roadsides, removal of dead trees, mapping, education, and creating defensible space. We are lucky to have retired County Fire Chief Dan Turner acting as the Fire Safe Council’s Executive Director and taking on this important work.

It has been an honor to serve as President of the Fire Safe Council for the past couple of years and to work with some great people.

The spring rains have created a lot of fuel this year. Should a fire break out, we should all do what we can to help reduce the risk of fire around our homes and businesses! Feel free to call my office for more information on this or other issues at 805-781-4339.

It’s an honor to represent the 5th District.

-Debbie Arnold

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