The Santa Barbara County Fire Department met with weather experts last Wednesday to discuss precautionary measures for the upcoming dry season.
The drier summer and fall months place the county at increased risk of wildfires. The 2008 Montecito Tea Fire destroyed 210 homes in the Montecito and Santa Barbara.
According to SBCFD Public Information Officer Captain David Sadecki, the region is experiencing significantly warmer weather compared to the same time last year.
“Beginning of this wildfire season, we have been seeing pretty low moisture level in the mid-70s, whereas last year it would be around the mid-90s,” Sadecki said. “That means that this year, it is drier and at the same time hotter than a normal summer in Santa Barbara area.”
Sadecki said the SBCFD is working alongside other groups to adequately prepare for possible brushfires.
“All our equipments are serviced and ready to go in case of a wildfire,” Sadecki said.“Our stations are fully staffed and we’re in constant contact with weather services and other local agencies. Also, through the mutual aid system, all the local departments can pool their resources and respond to fires in the area more effectively.”
Residents can proactively fire-proof their property by relocating wood and other flammable materials away from vegetation, Administrative Assistant for the Montecito Fire Protection District Geri Ventura said.
“We do have great co-operation with other departments in the area, but our resources are limited and it does take some to co-ordinate effectively,” Ventura said. “In Montecito, we only have 23 engines ready to go, and it would be unreasonable to expect to see a fire engine coming up to respond to every fire if there is a wildfire going on. So with the fire season coming up, it’s best to take protective measures against any possible fire.”
Additionally, Sadecki said the SBCFD “Ready! Set! Go!” program offers supplementary information and teaches families how to act in emergency situations.
UCSB Emergency Preparedness Manager Jim Caesar said hikers should remain cognizant of their belongings to prevent littering flammable materials.
“If you are living off-campus, we advise clearing of bushes and vegetation around your house,” Caesar said. “Also, if you’re going hiking or doing outdoor activities, be careful when using metal objects that can cause fire.”
According to Ventura, officials routinely inspect routes and fire paths to decrease the likelihood of an obstruction
“In Montecito specifically, we have been going around and doing property inspection to make sure that there is access for our engines in case of fire,”Ventura said.“If our fire engines cannot access certain areas, then it makes our job more difficult and also increases the risk of houses being affected by fire.”
According to Caesar, the UCSB American Red Cross Club will hold a training course on June 2 next to the SRB to teach students how to properly set up shelters in case of an emergency.
Visit the SBCFD website at http://sbcfire.com or the MFPD website at http://montecitofire.com for more information on wildfire preparedness.