Town of Paradise Battalion Chief Rick Manson shares tips on how to prepare your home, family, and community for wildfire.
By now, everyone in Paradise—and the American West—is familiar with wildfires. While they’re most common in the summer and fall, they can occur year-round. And unfortunately, the fact remains: despite the Camp Fire removing much of the tinder in Town, wildfire is still possible.
Preparation is key to protect lives and property, so we asked CAL FIRE/Paradise Fire Battalion Chief Rick Manson to share more about how the Town— and its residents—can be prepared.
Town of Paradise: How does CAL Fire/Paradise Fire help the Town prepare for wildfire?
Chief Manson: Internally, we provide and conduct training for our firefighters to ensure we are all prepared for the challenges we face each year. We also work with our cooperators on training to ensure we always remain in a state of readiness. Externally, we work to educate the public of the hazards of living in the wildland urban interface areas of California. We work to inform everyone in the community on Ready, Set, Go and knowing their zone and evacuation routes. We will continue to educate the community, and we ask the you to be cautious with outdoor activities.
ToP: How can Paradise residents get ready for a fire?
CM: There are many ways people can prep for wildfire. Here are a few of the most important dos and don’ts:
Do: Ensure there is plenty of defensible space around your home. This increases the likelihood that your home will survive if fire comes through town.
Don’t: Keep firewood, trash cans, or any other flammable material next to your home. Learn more about home hardening here.
Do: Follow Ready Set Go protocol to prepare for wildfire. In fact, you can start planning now!
Don’t: Wait until the last minute to prepare or make a plan for evacuation.
Do: Evacuate when asked.
Don’t: Wait around after evacuation orders are issued. The longer you stay, the greater the risk of danger. Rescues take away extra time and resources that firefighters need to fight wildfires.
Most importantly? Leave when your zone is asked to evacuate. We urge you to take evacuation orders seriously, even if they’re issued often. Please know they’re not knee-jerk reactions; they’re issued with intent so people have time to get out safely.
ToP: Which government entities are involved in evacuations?
CM: The Fire Department, Sheriff’s Office, and Police Department all work together to provide as much safety as possible. If there’s an imminent threat from wildfire in the Town of Paradise, the Police Department is in charge of issuing the Evacuation Warnings and Orders, and works to liaise with the Sheriff’s office to assist with moving traffic out of town. Meanwhile, the Fire Department is focused primarily on rescuing people and saving property, working hand in hand with the Police Department and Sheriff’s Office to help people to safety and save as many pets and property as possible.
ToP: What are the best resources for up-to-date fire information?
CM: Here are a few helpful places to look for general fire updates:
- CAL FIRE Butte Unit/Butte County Fire Department Twitter
- Butte County Sheriff Twitter
- CAL FIRE information line
And these are the best to learn about fires in your area:
- Know Your Zone: This website is continually updated with current evacuation warnings.
- CodeRED: an app that notifies residents when there’s a fire in the area.
ToP: What do you love most about living in Paradise, despite the possibility of wildfires?
CM: Compared to the densely populated hometown where I grew up in Southern California, Paradise is a breath of fresh air. Having lived in Paradise for over twenty years now, I love the small, tight-knit community, and the lack of crowds. It’s been an incredible place to raise my kids, and despite the fires, I can’t imagine living anywhere else. At the end of the day, it’s home.
Are YOU ready for wildfire? CAL FIRE/Butte County Fire recently launched a local initiative to help Butte County residents prepare for wildfire. Visit www.bereadybutte.com to learn more!