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Wildfire Awareness Week begins today, continues through May 8 - SD County Supervisors appeal to governor for $5 to 6 million more in fire resources

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has declared May 2-8 Wildfire Awareness Week to remind all Californians to be prepared for wildfires and vigilant as the state approaches its peak fire season.

CAL FIRE will also be using the week to highlight the importance of the homeowner’s role in preparing their property and families ahead of time to survive a wildfire.

This year’s Wildfire Awareness Week theme is based on the nationwide fire preparedness campaign “Ready, Set, Go”. The slogan “Wildfire is coming…. Is your home ready?” focuses on the role homeowners have in being ready for a wildfire. Being Ready for a wildfire starts with maintaining adequate defensible space and hardening homes by using fire resistant building materials.

Fire officials firmly believe that it’s the combination of both defensible space and the hardening of homes that give a house the best chance of surviving a wildfire.

To assist homeowner’s preparation for wildfires, Cal Fire has introduced a new Web site which provides residents the steps to make their home more resistant to wildfires and ensure that their family is ready to evacuate early and safely when wildfire comes. The Web site is http://www.ReadyForWildfire.org.

“The first week in May is recognized as Wildfire Awareness Week, but residents need to be aware of the threat wildfire poses every day,” said Chief Del Walters, Cal Fire director. “Wildfires have occurred at all times of year in our state, but wildfire activity historically increases from spring through late fall, threatening lives, property and the environment. We are taking this week to heighten the public’s awareness about the steps they should take to prepare their homes and families for California’s inevitable wildfires.”

On Friday, April 30, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors urged Governor Schwarzenegger to increase firefighting resources, through on executive order, for the upcoming fire season. Sixteen mayors throughout San Diego lent their endorsements to the supervisors' request.

Spearheaded by Chairwoman Pam Slater-Price and Vice Chairman Bill Horn, the letter to the governor requesting the increase in funding outlines critical reasons additional firefighting resources must be secured for San Diego County. The letter specifies potential local impacts of state budget reductions on the regional mutual aid system, aerial firefighting staff, and the expected abundance of dry brush in the back country.

If initiated, the governor's executive order could bring $5 million to $6 million more in funding for regional fire protection on top of the $26 million already allocated to Cal Fire San Diego and the County's Cal Fire contracts. Previous executive orders from the governor have allowed Cal Fire to fully staff each of the 26 state fire engines in San Diego County.

Vice Chairman Horn's district covers a large amount of unincorporated land, where wildfires typically begin.

"It's impossible to expect the state to have a handle on our wildfire protection when its hands are being tied by the legislature," said Horn. "I hope the governor will sign the executive order and give Cal Fire San Diego the tools it needs to be ready for peak fire season."

 

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