Category Archives: Fire

San Marcos Fire Department selected to participate in National Fire Protection Association’s Community Risk Reduction Pilot Program

The San Marcos Fire Department has been chosen by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) to participate in the second phase of a pilot program to build a digital community risk assessment (CRA) tool. Aligned to NFPA 1300, Standard on Community Risk Assessment and Community Risk Reduction Plan Development, the tool, or “dashboard,” enables community leaders to gain valuable insights and make data-informed decisions surrounding fire prevention and other risk-reduction activities in their communities. 

According to NFPA, the concept of community risk reduction (CRR) – a process that identifies and prioritizes risks and ensures impactful mitigation initiatives – has been gaining traction across North America for more than 20 years. Innovative technology, access to data, and a shifting focus on prevention have resulted in new energy around this process. Reflecting that momentum, NFPA’s CRA tool works to help fire departments aggregate and disseminate data that pinpoint where risks exist within a given community.

“Access to accurate data will allow CRR leaders to use insights and make informed decisions about where to focus efforts and resources,” said Karen Berard-Reed, community risk reduction strategist at NFPA. “While many fire departments have struggled to work with data sets, NFPA’s CRA tool will do the complex work behind the scenes to compile relevant data allowing stakeholders to create effective community risk reduction plans that incorporate five priorities: Education, engineering, enforcement, economic incentives, and emergency response – in the most impactful ways possible.”

The first phase of the pilot project, which included participation from 50 fire departments across the country, helped identify features of the digital dashboard that will work effectively and those that need fine-tuning. During the second phase of the program, which involves participation from 250 departments nationwide, the San Marcos Fire Department will provide insights around the use of the dashboard through June of 2021 to help continue refining and enhancing its effectiveness.

“Participation in this project allows each fire department to provide important feedback that will be used to improve future versions of the dashboard, positions the community among CRR leaders in the United States, and signals an interest in leveraging technology to drive high-quality community safety initiatives,” said Berard-Reed.

As a participant in the pilot program, the San Marcos Fire Department will have free access to the dashboard, which includes customized visualizations (maps, charts, graphs) that illustrate each community’s risks and hazards across a variety of categories such as demographics, geography, building stock, economics, infrastructure, and event loss history. The dashboard also provides a snapshot of local capacity for risk reduction activities with information about public safety response agencies and community service organizations. In addition to dashboard access, participants will be provided rich networking and professional development opportunities with other communities engaged in CRR.

“We are thrilled to be participating in this important project,” said Dan Barron, Fire Chief of the San Marcos Fire Department. “Access to the tool will not only give us invaluable information about our community’s needs, but it’s rewarding to know that using the tool will increase its effectiveness and help other fire departments in the long run.” Follow NFPA’s CRR efforts on social media using #itstartswithinsights, or for more information online, visit www.nfpa.org/crr.

Fire Burns Near School in San Elijo Hills – NBC 7 San Diego

A small fire in San Marcos burned over an acre of brush near an elementary school, prompting a response from firefighters Tuesday evening.The fire started sometime before 4:30 p.m. near Attebury Drive and San Elijo Road and burned with a moderate rate of spread, according to Cal Fire San Diego, which was assisting San Marcos Fire Department with their firefighting efforts.The fire charred about one to two acres of vegetation behind Double Peak K-8 school before its spread was stopped shortly before 5 p.m., officials said.

Source: Fire Burns Near School in San Elijo Hills – NBC 7 San Diego

Brush Fire at Ledge and San Elijo Road near fire station. San Elijo road

Brush Fire at Ledge and San Elijo Road near fire station. San Elijo road is being closed. No evacuations are being ordered at this time. No homes threatened at this time. Air support is up!

LEDGE FIRE UPDATE: Forward progress has stopped. Fixed wing aircraft have been released. Helicopter and fire apparatus remain for mop up, probably through the night.

San Marcos, CA: California fires and red flag warnings remind us to be prepared

The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning for San Marcos and San Diego County through Wednesday, Nov. 14. Red flag warnings are designed to alert fire departments of the onset, or possible onset, of critical weather and dry conditions that could lead to rapid or dramatic increases in wildfire activity.

According to CALFIRE, the type of weather patterns forecasted for the area include low relative humidity, strong winds, dry fuels, the possibility of dry lightning strikes, or any combination of the above.

During heightened fire danger, CAL FIRE and San Marcos Fire Department will place additional firefighters on duty, staff more fire engines and keep more equipment on 24 hours a day to be able to respond to any new fires.

“Wildfires burning in Ventura, Los Angeles and Butte counties are a clear reminder that we are in a dangerous fire season, and that one could flare up any moment, especially with the forecasted Santa Ana winds heading to San Diego County,” said Fire Chief Brett VanWey.

To prepare, San Marcos Fire Department and the County of San Diego are recommending residents take a “Ready, Set, Go!” approach for peak fire season.

Homeowners are asked to get “ready” by creating or maintaining at least one hundred and fifty feet of defensible space – but to do so only early in the morning when the grasses are still dewy to prevent sparking a fire in the dry heat of the day.

Residents can also get “ready” by making an emergency plan, gathering emergency supplies and making sure smoke detectors are in working condition.

If a fire breaks out, San Marcos residents can get “set” to evacuate by staying updated on the latest local safety information by visiting the city’s website, following San Marcos @sanmarcoscity on FacebookTwitter and Instagram; registering for e-notifications; and turning radios to AM 1610.

Finally, if told to do so by a public safety official or you feel unsafe, be ready to “go” by taking the evacuation steps necessary to give your family and home the best chance of surviving a wildfire.

“San Marcos is no stranger to wildfire and it is up to all of us to help keep ourselves, our property and the community safe,” said Fire Chief Brett VanWey.

It is important that residents stay connected before, during and after emergencies.

In addition to city information channels, residents can register cell phones with San Diego County’s free AlertSanDiego notification system by visiting www.readysandiego.org to sign up. Once registered, residents will receive calls or texts with local emergency information.

For more information about how you can prepare for emergencies, visit www.san-marcos.net/beprepared or visit ReadySanDiego.org. For red flag warning updates or to learn how you can do your part to reduce wildfire risk, visit CALFIRE’s website.

San Marcos Fire Department responds to a small vegetation fire

San Marcos Fire Department responds to a small vegetation fire

At approximately 9 am on Friday, Aug. 17, the San Marcos Fire Department responded to a small vegetation near 2430 S. Rancho Santa Fe Road. Crews contained the blaze to a 50 by 50-foot area and extinguished the fire by approximately 10 am.

While brief evacuations were issued out of an abundance of caution, no injuries or significant damage has been reported. The fire’s cause is currently under investigation; there have been unconfirmed reports of a discarded cigarette thrown from a vehicle according to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.

Eastbound S. Rancho Santa Fe Road at Las Flores Drive will be closed until noon so that the Fire Department can clear partially burned trees and mop up the area.

 

This fire serves as a critical reminder of the importance of wildfire preparedness. All homeowners must maintain 150 feet of defensible space and residents should have an emergency plan in place.

To learn more about emergency preparedness, visit www.san-marcos.net/beprepared. To learn more about preparing your home for wildfire, visit www.san-marcos.net/wildfiresafety.

San Marcos firefighters help CSUSM students test drone technology

During a wildfire simulation, students explored how drones could deliver hoses to crews

Last month North County firefighters gathered in San Marcos for a wildfire simulation, but this wasn’t your typical training.
The City of San Marcos rallied crews from several cities to help California State University San Marcos (CSUSM) students test a drone technology that could improve how wildfires are fought.

“Firefighters spend a lot of time and energy shuttling hoses from the engine to the actual wildfire,” explained Nick Blaylock, one of the students involved. “And they’re often doing this up steep slopes and across rough terrain, which is exhausting.”

Drones, however, could possibly help crews conserve some energy by air-dropping those hose- packs so firefighters don’t have to haul them. As part of a senior project, Blaylock and four other students spent months exploring that with Skylift Global, a San Marcos-based company that makes drones capable of delivering supplies to first-responders.
Though Skylift Global has been in business for three years, serving firefighters is new territory it wanted to explore–so the company submitted a proposal for the Senior Experience Program, which assigns CSUSM students to real-world projects like these.
The students began by researching what crews face during a wildfire. That led them to San Marcos Fire Battalion Chief James Colston, who oversees the department’s training and safety division.“We’re fortunate to have Cal State San Marcos right here in our backyard, so we were happy to help,” he said. “We invited them to observe our annual training, which I think opened their eyes.”

It did, in fact, says Blaylock. His team realized that a drone probably couldn’t help much during the early stages of a wildfire because the flames are too unpredictable. But it likely could help during the later stages, when a fire border has been established.
Based on that, the students designed a simulation that included fire hose packs every 100-feet, as if a drone had peppered them out for crews. Now, all they needed were firefighters to run the test.

“Thankfully, Chief Colston got an amazing turnout for us,” Blaylock said. “We were so thankful that so many firefighters were willing to come volunteer their time on a Sunday morning to help us.”

During the May 6 simulation, firefighters from the cities of San Marcos, Carlsbad, Escondido and Rancho Santa Fe—as well as the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE)—participated. Results showed that if crews did not have to manually haul hose packs, they worked about 18 percent faster—and theoretically, would be less fatigued during a real wildfire.

“While time is a good measurement, fatigue is really the key factor,” explained Colston, who added that he can see the potential support drones could provide. “If something like this can increase efficiency while reducing the chance of firefighters getting hurt, then I’m all for it.”
That exact sentiment is what inspired Amir Emadi to start Skylift Global. His father was working as a United States cooperative in Iraq when he was killed by Iraqi forces while protecting a city.

“Since then, I’ve spent my life finding a way to introduce technology to the people who dedicate their lives to protect us,” Emadi said. “I formed Skylift to help our first-responders save time, money and lives by delivering their critical supplies with our heavy-lift drones.”
As a next step, Emadi will use the research conducted by the CSUSM students to develop a plan to bring the drones to market. There are still hurdles to navigate, as drones are legally not allowed to be in the air during a wildfire, but Emadi is optimistic he can keep the momentum going.

“It was refreshing to work with such a driven, intelligent and responsible team,” he said, adding that although the CSUSM students have now graduated, some have remained interns and he hopes to hire them. “I am so thankful that San Marcos is home to such bright young talent like this, as well as city leaders who value innovation and are open to collaboration.”

For more information about Skylift Global, visit https://www.skyliftglobal.com/

Cocos Fire: 4 Years Later – The Escondido Creek Conservancy

Almost 2,000 acres burned, 40 structures destroyed, and almost $5.7 million dollars in property damage were caused by the Coco’s Fire. The fire was ignited by a 14-year-old girl in her backyard on May 14th, 2014. Fire season typically starts in October after the summer has dried out the vegetation but California was experiencing one of its worst droughts on record — leaving it particularly vulnerable. The Conservancy decided to turn the tragedy of the fire into an opportunity to document the rebirth of the ecosystem, to monitor the burned areas over time, to see what could be learned by taking photos of the same sites for five years. We are now in year four of that monitoring. Read more via Source: Cocos Fire: 4 Years Later – The Escondido Creek Conservancy

San Marcos joins regional fire agencies in regional Wildland Fire Preparedness Drill

The San Marcos Fire Department joined numerous fire agencies across the region, in coordination with the Pala Band of Mission Indians, in an annual San Diego County Wildland Fire Preparedness Exercise that took place from Wednesday, April 25 through Friday, April 27. Numerous emergency service agencies from throughout San Diego County will come together to prepare for the upcoming fire season.

SMFD participates in San Diego County
 Wildland Fire Drill
 The San Marcos Fire Department’s mobile emergency operation center served as a command center during the regional drill.
Battalion Chief Bill Frederick participates in regional wildland fire drill
 Battalion Chief Bill Frederick participates in regional wildland fire drill.

“This exercise provides a unique opportunity for the region’s fire resources to come together and train as one team,” said San Marcos Fire Chief Brett VanWey.

Regional firefighting forces joined together for training on inclusive of emergency communications, firefighter survival, structure defense, and hose deployments under simulated emergency conditions.

The area’s firefighting aircraft also participated in this three day training event. These water- dropping aircraft joined ground forces in coordinated fire attacks under simulated fire conditions.

“Fire season is year round and this drill helps us improve regional fire response and identify opportunities to improve,” VanWey said.

With approximately 750 firefighters participating in the training exercises over three days, this training event is a key element in maintaining firefighter preparedness as the region moves into the hot, dry summer months that bring the traditional fire season.

For the ninth year in a row, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) has provided funding for the event. The utility company is again sending line crews and utility equipment to participate in one of the training scenarios to educate first-responders on what to do if they come across downed power lines while battling a wildland fire.

“San Marcos is no stranger to wildfire and it is up to all of us to help keep ourselves, our property and the community safe,” continued VanWey. “Residents are also an important part of keeping the community safe, especially during a disaster.”

Now is the time to review family emergency plans, prepare a supply kit, and inventory home items such as important documents and medications so that you would want to take with you so you are ready to go if told to do so by a public safety official.

Homeowners are asked to create and maintain at least 150 feet of defensible space – but to do so only early in the morning when the grasses are still dewy to prevent sparking a fire in the dry heat of the day.

Residents should register all cell phones with AlertSanDiego to receive emergency notifications. This is especially important if landlines are no longer in the home. Residents can also download the SDEmergency App.

During an emergency, residents should stay updated on the latest local safety information by visiting the city’s website; following the city on FacebookTwitter and Instagram with the handle @sanmarcoscity; registering for e-notifications; and turning radios to AM 1610.

For more information about how you can prepare for emergencies, visit www.san-marcos.net/beprepared or visit ReadySanDiego.org. For red flag warning updates or to learn how you can do your part to reduce wildfire risk, visit CALFIRE’s website.

Defensible space inspections help keep homeowners safe in San Marcos

Defensible space inspections help keep homeowners safe in San Marcos

San Marcos, CA –In the last year, the San Marcos Fire Department (SMFD) conducted nearly 830 defensible space inspections of properties located in the city’s highest wildfire risk areas, as determined by the Community Wildfire Protection Plan.

Photo caption: San Marcos Fire Inspector Randy Hill conducts a defensible space audit on a home in a high fire risk area.  

Since January, the San Marcos Fire Department has sent notices to 250 properties asking owners to remove dead and overgrown vegetation and maintain the required 150 feet around a home to help reduce or slow the spread of wildfire.

“San Marcos is no stranger to wildfire and it is up to all of us to help keep ourselves, our property and the community safe,” said Fire Chief Brett VanWey.

During the defensible space audits, recommendations on how to improve or maintain defensible space are provided to the homeowner using a checklist and photos based on an inspection of the property.  If a homeowner is not home or cannot participate in the inspection while fire department personnel are on site, a copy of the report will be mailed to the owner.

Free of charge, homeowners do not need to be present as inspectors are able to assess defensible space requirements from the street or an adjacent property. Inspections are conducted only by uniformed fire department personnel to help educate homeowners on opportunities to minimize risk of wildfire.

“Creating defensible space is critical for a home’s chance of surviving a wildfire and reduces risk to our firefighters responding,” continued VanWey.


Photo Caption: Defensible space saved this home during the May 2014 Cocos Fire.

In addition to local inspections, CALFIRE will coordinate inspections with SMFD for residents living in the State Responsibility Area. CALFIRE’s main goal will be to educate homeowners and evaluate properties to ensure owners maintain the required defensible space – 100 feet for homes built prior to 2005 and 150 feet for homes built after 2005.

Homeowners can use the following tips to help homes survive a wildfire:

  • Maintain 150-feet of defensible space around all structures (100 feet for homes built prior to 2005).
  • Clear all needles and leaves from roofs, eaves and rain gutters.
  • Trim tree branches 6 feet from the ground.
  • Use trimming, mowing and power equipment before 10 a.m.
  • Landscape with fire resistant and drought tolerant plants that require little water.
  • Remove branches away from roofs and 10 feet from the chimney.
  • Keep wood piles and flammable materials at least 30 feet from the home.
  • Use fire ignition resistant building material.

For more emergency preparedness information, visit www.san-marcos.net/beprepared or call the San Marcos Fire Department at (760) 744-1050, ext. 3410.

Brush Fire in Elfin Forest-Seaquest Trail and Fortuna del Sur

@CBS8 Photo @SDrichards

Brush Fire in Elfin Forest-Seaquest Trail and Fortuna del Sur. Air response is up. The prevailing winds make this fire a NON issue at this time for San Elijo Hills.

SEMS PTO -“We are aware of the fire in Elfin Forest. It does not affect school. Dismissal will be as normal. Thank you”

UPDATE-Fire has been knocked down and Air and Ground resources are being released.

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