Weekly newspaper of Three Rivers, California, and Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks

FIRE EXPERTISE: Addressing the town meeting this week were (from left to right) Kelly Singer, NPS fire management officer-Sequoia District; Elizabeth LaMar, California Fire Safe Council grants specialist; and Jeff McLaughlin, Tulare County Fire Department.

Three Rivers Fire Safe Council mobilizes for 2019

By: 
John Elliott

 

Following a November 3 preliminary meeting that outlined the who, what, when,  and where of how a Fire Safe Council could be organized in Three Rivers, Elizabeth LaMar of Three Rivers, a grant specialist with the California FSC, told a packed house at the monthly Town Hall meeting on Monday, Dec. 3, that the response from the community has been enthusiastic and explained the next steps in the process. 
 
Fire Safe Councils are grassroots, community-led organizations that mobilize residents to protect their homes and the immediate environment from wildfire. 
 
“Let’s just make Three Rivers as safe as possible and manage fire-safe projects,” LaMar said. “We can secure grants — Cal Fire alone currently has $158 million for fire-prevention projects.”
 
LaMar continued to explain that there are other funding sources available too, and there is no reason why Three Rivers can’t tap into its share of money not only to complete prevention projects but also to help organize a local Fire Safe Council.
 
Here is some of what must occur to make a Fire Safe Council a reality in Three Rivers:
 
—Schedule regular community meetings. There have already been two, and the next one is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 12, 10 am, at Community Presbyterian Church. The main purpose of that meeting will be to form a leadership team and designate committees that will be needed to prioritize tasks and coordinate activities.
 
—Conduct a community-risk assessment. This will assess potential problems and identify evacuation routes and temporary shelters.
 
— Complete a Community Wildfire Protection Plan. Tasks must be outlines and expertise recruited. 
 
—Set up an education and outreach program. This will inform the community about what the local FSC is doing and what needs to be done to make Three Rivers more fire adapted and ready when/if there is a wildfire emergency.
 
“We don’t need a grant to begin our education and outreach part of the FSC agenda,” LaMar said. “We can get started right away. This effort is critical as we seek out persons with appropriate skill sets to help complete the tasks of our various committees.” 
 
To be considered first, LaMar said, is a set of priorities for Three Rivers, establish as a 501(c)(3) organization (non-profit), and work with the Sequoia Fire Safe Council, based in Camp Nelson, to take advantage of the experience of that Tulare County group.
 
LaMar also said it may be feasible in the future to have a paid executive director to coordinate all the activities of a Three Rivers Fire Safe Council. Of the 22 councils she has dealt with recently, five have paid positions.
 
“For now, we will begin with all volunteers,” LaMar said. “We have a wealth of talented and resourceful people here who have expressed a desire to get involved. If Three Rivers wants to get something done, it will happen.”
 
Also at the December 3 meeting, 3 meeting, Division Chief Jeff McLaughlin, Tulare County Fire Department, presented information on the department’s role in making the northern part of Tulare County fire safe, including information on upcoming grant-funded projects for South Fork Drive and Silver City. 
 
For more information on these projects and a recap of the November 3 meeting, go here
 
To volunteer or learn more about the upcoming meeting call Elizabeth LaMar at 559-288-2603. 
 
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