Deputy fire chief speaks on wildfire preparedness
With the hottest months of the year approaching, the Solana Beach Sun spent some time talking with Deputy Fire Chief Dismas Abelman about the best ways to be prepared in the event of a wildfire.
Solana Beach residents can call the fire department at 720-2407 to arrange for an inspection of their property’s readiness in the event of a wildfire.
Q: What is the most important thing to do in preparing for a wildfire?
A: I think the most important thing is to prepare before the day of the event. The best thing to do is if you are in an area that could potentially be exposed to a wildfire is to prepare a defensible space around your home. We refer to 100 feet away from your home as defensible space.
Q: How do you create a defensible space?
A: For the initial 30 feet away from your home, have vegetation that’s really nonflammable. Have very thinly spaced plants, shrubbery, a lawn or some other green belt or something that’s native that doesn’t transmit fire from plant to plant. For the next 70 feet you can go a little bit more with trees and heavy vegetation.
Q: What about other items outside?
A: Get ornamental stuff away — you do not want a whole bunch of stuff against your house. That includes patio furniture and awnings. You want to remove all these things before the event.
Q: What happened with the city in 2003 and 2007?
A: We were fortunate because we didn’t have any damage. In 2003, the intense fire action was not as directly affecting us. In 2007, it was just to our east and had the potential to get into the eastern part of the city. We notified residents that they could potentially need to move out.
Q: Nobody ended up having to evacuate in 2007, but what if they had needed to?
A: Get out early, there’s nothing that is in your home that is worth jeopardizing your life for. If you have time you can do an orderly once through your house and go, ‘OK, this is what’s important to me,’ load up your pets and get out while streets are still moving along at a good rate. Evacuating late is a very dangerous activity.
Q: Are wildfires are a year-round risk?
A: It’s absolutely a year round risk. One of the first wildfires in my career went on in February. We’ve seen large-loss fires throughout the entire year.
Q: How does the risk compare in Solana Beach?
A: Our danger is not quite so severe as some areas of the county. Our wildland urban interface is the San Elijo Lagoon Reserve. This area will tend to have more moisture in many of the plants and is a little bit less susceptible to the fire danger. We still do have a danger of wildfire, especially when relative humidity is down into the single digits.
- Our View: Helpful suggestions in preparing for fire season
- Tips to prepare for fire season
- Getting the word out on fire readiness
- Burn Institute offers fire tips
- Fire season DVDs coming
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