How to take precautions against wildfires

PHOTO: Fire fighters are parked at Celebrate Davis to make sure nothing goes wrong during the fireworks.

By Alexandra Zurborg, Staff–

Last year in California alone, there were approximately 8,500 wildfires that burned an area of 1.8 million acres. This was the largest area of burned acreage recorded in a fire season, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. It’s no surprise that fire safety is on most people’s minds, especially after the widespread occurrence of wildfire destruction.

“The main way firefighters help reduce the risk of fires is through education and enforcement,” Captain James Buessing of the Gilroy fire department said, “We show them how they can prepare their homes and property to create a defensible space in case of a wildfire.”

Wildfires can start for an abundance of reasons, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and make sure you are careful when handling anything that could potentially start a fire.

“They can be anything from lightning strikes, hot embers from power equipment to careless campfires,” Buessing said.

Company’s across California are doing their best to try and reduce the risk of wildfires. Some of the precautions that Pacific Gas and Electric is taking is vegetation management, wildfire inspection programs, system hardening, situational hardening, public safety power shutoff, situational awareness and operational practices.

New technology is also being used to address these wildfires ahead of time. Tahir Paroo, a Director of Enterprise Platforms for PG&E, has been using new technology to focus on wildfires. “[PG&E] has been trying new technology like weather stations learning to predict fire spread, satellite fire detections, and new machines that learn along with inspection imagery and automatically detect failure risks,” Paroo said.

Software company SAP has also been trying their best to use their technology to reduce fires. Amanda Cousins, an employee of SAP, has been working closely with the technology. “By connecting assets to find faults or issues quickly and using drone inspection data, analysis can be done for prediction of maintenance needs and identification of resources needed,” Cousins said.

There is also measures that homeowners can take to make sure that they are prepared for the worst. “Homeowners and citizens can go further by supporting government programs to create defensible space and fire breaks,” Paroo said, “This may result in tree removal or forest thinning. The intention here is to stop catastrophic fires.”

A clean space around your home, removal of dead plants, trimming your trees and being prepared for the worst can all be vital in this upcoming fire season.

With the continuation of climate change and the increase of fires it becomes the responsibility of all Californians to improve our safety. From greater community focus, new technologies and regulations California is working to address fire safety in a holistic way.

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