Part of living in a Mediterranean climate and enjoying the benefits of our adjacent natural environment, is the responsibility to be prepared to deal with the wildland fires which frequent the area. In 1997, a local group formed to strengthen the bond between the fire service agencies and private citizens and to help community members prepare for future wildfires. The Santa Barbara County Fire Safe Council continues to this day with the same mission it has had for 23 years – to promote wildfire safety in Santa Barbara County through education and action.
To better serve this mission, the Fire Safe Council used membership dues and a grant from Pacific Gas and Electric to launch a new website – www.sbfiresafecouncil.org. This new online platform provides Santa Barbara County residents with a host of resources to help understand their individual properties risk from wildfire; offers tools to reduce those risks such Community Wildfire Protection Plans and the FireWise USA and Ready! Set! Go! Programs; provides access to published papers on topics such as Fire History of Santa Barbara County, Weather and Fire Environment, and Risk Management; and includes current information on wildfires burning across California.
Typically, the Fire Safe Council meets every month at the Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management in Goleta. These meetings are open to the public and include presentations from local experts on topics such as fire ecology, fire behavior, vegetation management, habitat restoration, infrastructure improvement, weather services, and emergency planning. The presentations are recorded and made available for viewing on the new website. Due to the current limitation on public gatherings, the Fire Safe Council will be hosting their meetings online for the foreseeable future. The monthly meetings as well as the website offer opportunities for community members to become part of the solution to the challenges fire poses to our wildland urban interface areas.
According to Santa Barbara County Fire Chief, Mark Hartwig: “The Santa Barbara County Fire Safe Council has been an invaluable partner with all fire agencies in the county helping to promote wildfire safety for our communities. They have done this through a very effective public education campaign now highlighted in their new website. They have engaged in numerous grant-funded projects that have helped support wildfire mitigation including the development of Community Wildfire Protection Plans for the at-risk communities in Santa Barbara County.”
Please visit www.sbfiresafecouncil.org to learn more about your local Fire Safe Council and become informed on how to prepare your property, home, and families for wildland fires.