Shelter in place
Last updated 11/19/2009 at Noon
On Oct. 14, our County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a new fire code criterion that includes a requirement for two paths of entry for all new building projects. Implemented with the intention of improving firefighting access and evacuation egress, many prospective rural developments will be severely impacted by the additional expense or lack of a practical second route of approach.
I believe more attention should be given to the proven strategy called shelter in place. Simply stated, shelter in place is based upon the use of fireproof materials in the construction of inhabited structures and the implementation of defensive landscaping. Not a single shelter in place home was lost during the 2007 Witch Creek fire, a commendable achievement that only adds to the successful track record of this approach.
We have all learned the hard way the many problems associated with massive evacuations and difficult firefighting deployments during firestorms. The tragic loss of firefighters defending a home during the Esperanza fire underscores the value shelter in place implementations can contribute towards reducing the human and building costs associated with rural construction.