BEVERLY HILLS The National Firewise Communities Program honored Beverly Hills Thursday for its efforts to reduce the vulnerability of homes and landscapes to wildfire.
The city is being recognized as a Firewise Communities/USA site, and will be the third community in California to receive this prestigiousstatus.
After the blistering fire season of 1985 consumed numerous homes, representatives from the National Fire Protection Association and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service collaborated to form what is now the National Wildland/Urban Interface Fire Program.
The Firewise Communities/USA recognition program officially took flight in 2003 to provide incentive for communities and residents to take responsibility for the safety of their owncity.
The overall goal is to foster community involvement in fire preparation, said Amy Schneider, a spokeswoman for Firewise Media Relations.
According to the official Firewise Communities/USA Web site, there are three basic steps to make a community firewise: (1) wildland fire staff from federal, state or local agencies provide a community with information about coexisting with wildfire along with mitigation information tailored to that specific area; (2) the community assesses its risk and creates its own network of cooperating homeowners, agencies and organizations; and (3) the community identifies and implements localsolutions.
Tom Hoffman, the staff chief of fire prevention for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, agrees this program promotes homeownerresponsibility.
The message is that here in SoCal, we live in an ecosystem of which fire is a natural part, he said. We can live in harmony with fire without loss of homes and life.
Hoffman said the best way individuals can prepare for wildfires is to have adequate defensible space around theirhomes.
Youve got to take the fires fuel away, said Hoffman. Clear out brush, remove dead and dying vegetation, trim your trees, have plenty of space between plants and shrubs and clear all combustible material such as leaves or pine needles off of outside exposed areas. This will free up firefighters to actually extinguish the fire instead of attending to individual homes.
During the horrendous firestorms of 2003, not one single home in Stevenson Ranch was lost, a heartening feat attributed to the community’s appropriatepreparedness.
Hoffman, the chief of his department, Dale T. Geldert, Beverly Hills Fire Chief Bob Cavaglieri, Beverly Hills Mayor Linda J. Briskman and several community members and other city officials attended the Sept. 22 ceremony.
Visit www.firewise.org to learn how your community can wise up to fire prevention.