Plumas County now has nine Firewise communities.
In July, the Sloat, Cromberg and Camp Layman communities received Firewise Community recognition from the National Fire Protection Association.
By earning the national certification as a Firewise Community, they joined Lake Almanor West, Graeagle Fire Protection District, Gold Mountain, Grizzly Ranch, Lake Almanor Country Club, Greenhorn Creek Community Services District, Mohawk Vista and Plumas Eureka Community Services District.
Firewise is a national program that emphasizes community involvement, educating residents on the risks of wildfires and steps they can do to reduce that risk.
The process began last fall when a group of residents formed a Firewise Committee. Every year wildfires threaten communities in Plumas County and hearing the success stories of other Firewise Communities in the county, the group was inspired to move forward to complete the steps required for national certification.
After forming a Firewise committee, the group’s first step was to enlist help from the Long Valley Fire Department, the U.S Forest Service, Plumas County Office of Emergency Services and the Plumas Firesafe Council to complete a wildfire assessment of the three communities.
LastSeptember, the group toured the area along with members of the local Firewise Committee. They discussed positive attributes of the community as well as challenges for incoming emergency responders in the event of a wildfire threatening the community. The results of the field tour were summarized into a Firewise Assessment for the community, which became the basis of action items for the Firewise Committee to work on.
Firewise committee memberDan McDonald from Camp Layman called the assessment tour “a real eye opener.”
“It taught me a lot about the challenges for our firefighters entering into the community in the event of a wildfire,” McDonald said. “I learned a lot about fire behavior and how far embers can travel ahead of a fire. There are many things around the home, small things, that can ignite a structure.”
Mike McCourt, retired battalion chief from the Plumas National Forest, and a member of the Firewise Committee said fire awareness is critical for Sloat, Cromberg and Camp Layman residents.
“Large fires have threatened this area of Plumas County in past years; the Sloat Fire of 1981, the Layman Fire of 1989 and the Cold Fire of 2008 are still evident by their fire scars,” he said. “Each person living in our community should have an awareness of wildfires and continue to do fuel reduction throughout the year around their property and maintain defensible space.”
A Firewise Community is required to have a Firewise Day each year. The community’s first event was inApril.The Firewise Committee introduced themselves to the community and provided information about what it means to be part of a Firewise Community. Residents who attended were provided defensible space materials and learned about resources available to residents in the area through the Plumas Firesafe Council and had access to information to start their own personal emergency preparedness plan.
Another requirement is to have the community invest their time or money per capita in fuel reduction each year. So far this year Sloat, Cromberg and Camp Layman have reported over 350hours of fuel reduction work.
“We are excited to be able to use the Firewise Community model to do personal outreach, share our years of experience and speak with people one-on-one in our community about Firewise actions,” said Claude Sanders, a longtime timber faller and fuel reduction specialist in Plumas County and a member of the Firewise Committee.
“We are in it together in our neighborhoods. Neighbors talking to neighbors about wildfire preparedness and having an emergency plan is something everyone should being doing no matter where you live in the county.”
Residents interested in becoming a Firewise Community can contact the Plumas Firesafe Council at 283-0829 or visit plumasfiresafe.org for more information and assistance.