Getting the word out on fire readiness

We’ve said it before and we’re saying it again. Fire season is upon us. This time, though, if we’re willing to pay attention and to pitch in, help is on the way in the form of a DVD that will help you prepare for - and maybe avoid - the worst.

The effort builds on a program called “Before the Threat,” developed last year by East County’s San Miguel Fire District with the support of Farmers Insurance. While it is aimed at preparing residents for the eventuality of wildfire, the advice is applicable to other natural and man-made disasters as well.

Farmers footed the bill to develop the DVDs, which the fire district and volunteers handed out to 10,500 residents in a door-to-door campaign. This year, the company is teaming up with the San Diego County Office of Emergency Services and the San Diego County Fire Chiefs Association to get 400,000 of them into the communities most likely to be in fire danger.

Known as the wildland urban interface, the areas are those where houses are intermingled with or abut vegetation that are most susceptible to wildfires - and they’re not all rural areas. One only has to look at our local hillsides and envision a rapidly spreading fire to understand the potential.

“During the 2007 fires, we saw that defensible space works,” said Ron Lane, director of the San Diego County Office of Emergency Services. “The homes that were still standing in the fire perimeter area all had defensible space. The 1,700 homes that burned had a flaw in their defensible space, and that’s what we are hoping to address with our campaign.”

The campaign also stresses having information and paperwork ready in case of emergency and includes home inventory software.

But to get the DVD in the hands of those most likely to benefit, our fire officials need help. They’re looking for people to help them walk their neighborhoods on the weekends of July 25 and Aug. 1

Volunteers will include members of area Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) and fire safe councils as well as others who care about their neighborhoods.

If you’re interested in pitching in, go to

or contact your local fire station.