October is Fire Prevention Safety Month!

By: City Manager, Rachelle Rickard

It’s October! Fall is in the air and, as much as I know we enjoy our beautifully warm Atascadero summers, I’m sure that most of us are looking forward to the seasonal changes and a bit of cooler weather. October is also Fire Prevention Month and is a time each year when agencies across the country join in spreading the word about fire safety and prevention, as well as overall personal safety.

The City of Atascadero’s ongoing highest priority and commitment is to ensure the safety of all those who live in or visit our beautiful community. As is often the case at this time of year and with little to no measurable rainfall to date, our local wildland fire fuel sources have become extremely flammable. California’s devastating wildland fires have unfortunately become a commonplace occurrence. They are a tragic reminder for all of us to be extra and continually vigilant. Earlier this year, the City introduced two new programs to help keep our residents safe from harm. Optimally, these emergency measures will never have to be used within our community, but they are great tools to have in place that can be immediately deployed if needed.

First, we presented “Know Your Atascadero Zone”, an online program and communication system that provides rapid, accurate information to residents that may be threatened by various types of emergencies or natural disasters, including wildland fire. Every resident should sign up for the alerts and information can be found on the Fire and Emergency Services page of the City’s website.

We also implemented a new method to notify residents should there be a need to evacuate promptly, and “if you hear the Hi-Lo, you know it’s time to go!” This European-style, two-tone siren makes a very distinctive and unfamiliar sound. It will only be used for immediate evacuation notifications and during an extreme emergency. We hope we’ll never need to use it, but if you do hear it, remember – the Hi-Lo siren means one thing only – evacuate immediately.

Residents can take certain measures to help reduce the potential risk of wildland fire. To protect your home, be sure to keep roofs and gutters clean; maintain a 100’ clearance of weeds and grasses from around any structures, as well as a 10’ clearance on driveways; and keep shrubs and brush cleared from structures at a distance of at least 30’ or more.

There are a few common sense safety practices to keep in mind for inside the home as well. Never leave an unattended stove or oven while cooking; place candles in non-tip candleholders, far away from any flammable materials; never leave lit candles unattended and keep them out of reach of children and pets; and turn off all light strands and electrical decorations before you go to bed or leave your home.  Finally, before buying a Christmas tree, be sure to test it for freshness. If needles fall or can be pulled off easily, the tree is too dry. Then find a cool spot for your fresh tree, away from heater vents and the fireplace, and keep it as fresh as possible by watering it often. Be sure to remove it from the home when it is dry, as dried-out Christmas trees are a serious fire danger and should not be left in the home or garage, or placed outside against the home.

As always, my sincerest hope is that all Atascadero residents enjoy the many upcoming fall and winter activities together with their friends and loved ones, while staying safe and secure.

If you have any questions about this or any other topic related to the City, please contact me at rrickard@atascadero.org.

City Manager, Rachelle Rickard

Rachelle Rickard is a native of California and a nearly 30 year resident of Atascadero. She graduated with a business degree from California Polytechnic (Cal Poly) State University in San Luis Obispo. In February 1997, She took a job as the Accountant with the City of Atascadero and was promoted to the position of Director of Administrative Services. At the time of her appointment to the position of Administrative Services Director for the City of Atascadero, she was the youngest person ever appointed to that role; she was also the first female Department Head ever appointed within the City. Rachelle Rickard was appointed to the position of City Manager of the City of Atascadero in June, 2013.