CAL FIRE Wildfire Warnings, a New App, and a Chance to Win $10,000

May 7–13 is Wildfire Awareness Week, and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) is urging homeowners to prepare now for the dry, flammable season ahead. California’s wet winter has brought an abundance of spring grass and brush, which, after it dries, will pose great fire danger.

Removing excess vegetation around homes and maintaining 100 feet of defensible space can raise the odds that your home—or any other structures on your property—will survive a wildfire.

CAL FIRE has launched a new app, Ready for Wildfire, which puts a library of step-by-step, wildfire preparedness checklists, emergency preparation information and more in the palm of a user’s hand. In conjunction with the app launch, CAL FIRE is sponsoring the Ready for Wildfire Sweepstakes through May 21 for a chance to win up to $10,000 when the app is downloaded or updated.

The app can be downloaded at the App Store or on Google Play by searching for “Cal Fire”.

 

Cal Fire Cracks Down on Drones

When working to stop a wildfire, time is of the essence. Firefighters have minutes to hold back a blaze, and any disruptions can cost property and lives.

During the recent Trailhead Fire, firefighting operations were disrupted by a hobby drone flown above the fire to take personal videos and photos. The drone operator was arrested for allegedly interfering with the firefighting efforts in that area.

According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire), there has been a surge in hobby drones interfering with firefighting efforts over the last two years. Cal Fire recently launched its “If You Fly, We Can’t!” campaign, asking the public to never fly drones near wildfires.

“When a hobby drone flies in the path of our aircraft, we have no choice but to pull back our airtankers and helicopters until the drone is removed,” said Cal Fire Chief Dave Teter, deputy director of fire protection.

Aerial firefighting aircraft, such as planes and helicopters, fly at very low altitudes to drop fire retardant and water onto the fire. If a drone flies in the same air space, fire officials have to pull back the aircraft to avoid midair collisions.

To report irresponsible drone operators flying their drones close to disasters and emergencies, call 1-844-DRONE11 (1-844-376-6311). For more information, visit the Cal Fire website at www.fire.ca.gov.

 

Do Your Part During Wildfire Season

shutterstock_209851783As the heart of wildfire season approaches, state fire agencies are asking for the public’s help to prevent wildfires—95 percent of which in California are caused by human activity, according to Cal Fire.

As part of the One Less Spark—One Less Wildfire campaign, Cal Fire highlights four major areas of concern that can cause a wildfire:

Using outdoor equipment. Lawn mowers, chainsaws, grinders, welders, tractors, and weed-eaters can all spark a wildland fire. Mow before 10 a.m. when it’s coolest but never when it’s windy or excessively dry. Metal blades striking rocks can create sparks and start fires. In wildland areas, spark arresters are required on all portable gas-powered equipment.

Grinding and welding operations in wildland areas require a permit and 10 feet of clearance. Don’t drive a vehicle onto dry grass or brush—hot exhaust pipes and mufflers can start fires. Keep a shovel and fire extinguisher nearby.

Debris burning. First, obtain any burn permits that may be required and be sure burning isn’t currently restricted in your area.

Landscape debris piles must be in small 4-foot by 4-foot piles. Clear all flammable material and vegetation within 10 feet of the pile’s outer edge, and keep a water supply and shovel nearby. An adult is required by law to be in attendance until the fire is out. No burning should be done in unsafe conditions, particularly if it’s windy and surrounding vegetation is very dry.

Campfires. Be sure to have any necessary permits for a campfire, and check on any local fire restrictions in the area. Select an open, flat location for the campfire and be sure there are no heavy fuels (logs), brush, leaves, or needles within 10 feet of the fire ring.

Never leave a campfire unattended and keep a shovel and bucket of water on hand. Never leave children around a fire unattended.

To completely extinguish a campfire, Cal Fire recommends the “drown, stir, and feel” method. Drown the fire with water, then stir around the fire pit coals with a shovel to be sure remaining embers are out. Smother the ashes with dirt and, finally, feel the area with the back of your hand to ensure nothing is smoldering.

Vehicle and towing safety. To practice safe towing, secure any chains that could possibly drag and throw sparks. Use appropriate safety pins and hitch ball to secure chains. Be sure your vehicle is properly maintained, and that there are no dragging parts that could cause a spark. Make sure your brakes are in good working order—brakes worn too thin can cause metal-to-metal contact, which may cause a spark.

For additional information on wildfire prevention and safety, visit Cal Fire’s website, www.calfire.ca.gov, and the agency’s accompanying site, www.readyforwildfire.org.