Preventing Wildland Fire, PSPS, and Being Prepared

By: City Manager, Rachelle Rickard

With all that has been going on around us in recent months, it’s quite understandable that we may have put off some of the often mundane but necessary day-to-day tasks. However, during this time of year with our long, hot days of summer and warm afternoon breezes, it is extremely important for us all to remember to do everything we can in order to protect our families, homes, property and our community from the potential devastating effects of wildland fire. Diligent weed abatement with year-round maintenance of returning weed growth is one of the key elements to fire prevention and it is likely most of us will need to complete our weeding chores more than once this fire season.

The positive outcome of diligent weed abatement efforts was made evident during the recent fire that occurred near Highway 41 on the west side of town. Fire Chief Casey Bryson stated, “The amount of weed abatement that had been accomplished by surrounding property owners really assisted fire crews to get an upper hand on the blaze. If the weeds were not cut back and proper weed abatement measures had not taken place, this fire would most likely have burned several homes in the surrounding area. Thanks to the property maintenance that had been completed by the residents of this neighborhood, the job of putting this potentially very dangerous fire out quickly was made much easier for our fire crews”.

I invite everyone to learn how to prepare for a potential Wildland Fire event by viewing the Defend Atascadero video, which is part of our Community Wildfire Preparedness Program. Additional information about preparing and protecting your home and family can be found on the Department of Fire and Emergency Services’ webpage at or by calling the Fire Department at 805-461-5070.

It’s also very important for every resident to be reminded about PG&E’s Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) program. When certain weather events are predicted, such as high winds, low humidity and dry fuels – typical for our area during the summer months, PG&E will proactively shut off the power to prevent the potential for sparking a wildfire. PSPS events could affect very large areas, so we all need to plan for long-term power outages at our homes and for the power to also be turned off for the entire community, including the commercial areas of town that provide critical services we all use every day including grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, stores, and traffic signal lights. All residents need to prepare in order to be ready for such an event. Please visit PG&E’s website for more information at

Atascadero has always been a wonderful community filled with caring and conscientious residents who truly look out for one another. I’m confident that we will all continue to do so, even during these somewhat stressful and trying times.

If you would like more information about this or another City government-related topic, please contact me at, or 805-470-3400.


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.