At the regular Yucaipa City Council meeting on July 12, a Firewise Community organization was presented to the city and council members. Yucaipa Fire Chief Grant Malinowski said the post-El Dorado assessment is done on a continuous basis along with pattern field mitigation projects to keep the community safe.
“We look at the areas that are of high concern and what we can do differently,” said Malinowski. One of the things Doug Williams, who is a resident of Yucaipa approached Malinowski with was how could the community in the Wildwood corridor do something different.
The Firewise community is really a community that makes an effort preparing their homes, improving ingress and egress for their safety for evacuation and for the dire department ingress to fight the fires. There is a process they had to complete to be accepted as a Firewise Community and are called “The Wildwood Watch-ers” which in-cludes 50 homes. There is a second community being formed in Live Oak and San Timoteo Canyon called “Friends of Live Oak Canyon,” which has also achieved the status of being a Firewise Community.
Williams shared a video of the program to better explain the program to the council members. This program allows the community to work more closely on the community level with their local and state liaisons. The group forms a Firewise board in its group of participants which is resident lead along with the local fire department to help assess the priorities for its risk reduction project.
Williams said, “We had to apply for the program. A CAL-FIRE representative came out and toured the neighborhood and we did a risk assessment. There is a checklist that we went through that pointed out the possible increase of risk or endangerment to life and property if there is a wildfire.”
The program is applied for and is run nationally. A three year plan was created for the community which included what would be done personally as homeowners to decrease the risk of fire and also what could be done in the community with the help of the public working together to increase communication. Williams was frustrated with the lack of communication on the state level especially during the fires last year. The open communication between the Yucaipa community and the local fire department with Malinowski was highly praised by Williams.
Williams said, “The highlight will be if we can potentially have some sort of fuel break between the state park and the houses in that area. That’s really the goal, just to have something so we have a chance. Right now it is a ticking time bomb so we are doing the best we can as homeowners in the community to address the issues.”
The main issues were no fuel break between the state park and the houses, houses withplate glass windows in the front with shrubbery against could heat up the glass, shattering it and allowing the house to catch on fire and ladder fuels - low tree branches and brush within 5 to 6 feet of the boundaries of a home could potentially cause a fire.