CalFire’s New Home Hardening Program

Our March meeting will be at 6:00 pm on Tuesday Mar. 1st at Turtle Rock Park.   CalFire’s Division Chief Jim McDougald of their Home Hardening Program will be giving a presentation on CalFire’s new program on home, parcel, and community hardening.

Defensible space around homes is an important defense against losing our homes in the event of a catastrophic wildfire.  However during a catastrophic wildfire embers can be easily carried by wind for more than a mile, and can ignite homes that have good defensible space.  In addition a recent study by Dr. Eric Knapp on the city of Paradise after the Camp Fire showed that best predictor of whether a house burned was whether another structure within 200 ft. caught fire.  Defensible space was not sufficient.  CalFire has initiated a pilot program to help harden homes and communities against catastrophic wildfire.  Ideally homes and communities would be able to survive a catastrophic wildfire even if no suppression forces were available.  There is good information on home hardening in Appendix 7 of Alpine County’s Community Wildfire Protection Plan.

Chief McDougald has worked for CalFire since 1994.  He has served as the Battalion Chief Pre-Fire Coordinator for the Southern Region, where he was responsible for implanting the Strategic Fire Plan for California and developing statewide programs for fuels reduction tracking and damage inspection.  In 2014, he was promoted to Assistant Chief in the Fresno Kings Unit as the Protection Planning Chief where he oversaw the Fire Prevention Bureau, Resource Management and Pre-Fire Programs as well as Protection and Planning for the Fresno County Fire Protection District.  During that time, he worked with local cooperators to develop a county wide response to local tree mortality.  This included the development of community fuel breaks, evacuation route clearance, and community protection planning county wide.  Chief McDougald’s current assignment is the Assistant Chief for the Home Hardening Program working under the Department’s Community Wildfire Preparedness and Mitigation Division.

Barring a covid explosion the meeting will be at 6:00 pm on Tuesday March 1st at Turtle Rock Park.  Masks or face shields are required to be worn.  In the event covid gets out of hand the meeting will be switched to Zoom and the connection information will be shared as soon as a decision is made.

Future Meetings:  Please send suggestions for future speakers to  Presentations need to be on topics that relate to our mission statement.

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