The City Manager welcomes guest blogger, Modesto’s Fire Chief Alan Ernst
The California fire season started early and remains fierce. The state is now considering the longer fire seasons as the “new norm,” and we should expect extreme fire conditions each and every year due to changes in our climate, extreme bug kill in our forests, years of drought, and wildland urban development.
The Modesto Fire Department is a proud partner in the statewide mutual aid system, and has deployed numerous personnel and equipment on several large fires already this summer. It is important for our community to understand when we send personnel and equipment out to assist other communities in their time of need, we also backfill staffing and equipment to ensure the citizens of Modesto are adequately covered. Please keep our firefighters in your thoughts and prayers as they are working long hard hours protecting neighboring communities.
Locally, in our own community, fire activity has increased significantly this year over last year – bucking the National trend of a reduction in fires for municipal fire departments. We’ve seen a 10% increase in vegetation fires and a 5% increase in overall fire types.
There are steps you can take to keep yourself and your loved ones safe from fire. First and foremost, have a working smoke detector in your home. Working smoke detectors save lives, it is proven time and time again – do it for your family! Can’t afford smoke detectors for your home? Call our Fire Prevention Bureau at (209) 571-5553 and they will assist you.
Another simple, but important step is to sleep with your bedroom doors closed; doors act as barriers to both keep fire contained and keep fire out.
Working smoke detectors and closed doors can mean the difference between life and death when fire strikes in the middle of the night. For those living in more rural areas of our community, be sure to clear a defensible space in the area immediately surrounding your home. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) has a defensible space brochure online to help homeowners properly protect their homes.
We see the community as our partner in the fire protection responsibilities. We strive to rescue you and your loved ones, keep the fire from destroying more property, and put the fire out, but you can prevent many fires from even starting in the first place by following the steps outlined above. By working together, we can prevent loss of life and property in our community.