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Fire Education, Please

I live in both Idaho and Santa Barbara. Idaho has a fire mitigation program in which experts go to individual homes offering fire mitigation. To do the same in Santa Barbara, the Fire Safe Council says I must organize a group for a grant request. However, my neighbors don’t care about home maintenance as much as I do.

Everyone discusses hardening our homes, but we need to “harden our state” because 98 percent of our fires are started by “human error.” It is logical and reasonable to educate not only residents but visitors as well.

My suggestion to educate all students has met with 100 percent approval and enthusiastic support from everyone with whom I have spoken. Students from 3rd grade to 12th grade, at all private schools and the colleges and universities should be involved. I have already met with Susan Salcido, the county superintendent of Schools in our area; I have spoken with the County Fire Education Officer, Mike Eliason; I have contacted both the S.B. City and S.B. County fire chiefs; and I recently spoke to three fire chiefs at Santa Barbara’s Fire Safe Council.

I also have contacted the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors, who could present a program to the California Association of Realtors to add information on fire starts to each purchasers’ packet.

In Santa Barbara, we have Westmont College, SBCC, and UCSB. The Foreign Language School on Chapala is located right next to the S.B. Association of Realtors. I’ve seen nine Chinese students on my nearby property, seemingly unable to read two “No Smoking” signs, throwing their nine cigarette butts into my parking area! Spurred by anger, disappointment, and safety issues, it was on the afternoon of December 4, 2017, when I began my campaign to contact all the school entities. At 6:30 that very same evening, the Thomas Fire started. The next day, only one person returned my call, Capt. Dave Zaniboni of County Fire, now retired, who was right in the midst of fighting one of the largest fires ever in the state.

Our property insurance rates have risen, with some insurance companies no longer insuring properties in this state. I am exceedingly fire weary having been a resident since 1962 and a homeowner since 1970, enduring 13 major conflagrations. I, and many others, would appreciate more education and therefore, more protection.

I have called the Newcomers for, of course, the same reason, with no response as of yet. And I am told to contact the State Department of Education in Sacramento.

I cannot do it all by myself.

I am pleading for assistance.

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