Months of work by the West Contra Costa Fire Safe Council and Contra Costa County Fire Protective Services came to fruition last week as crews began to remove hazardous brush and clear fire paths as part of wildfire prevention efforts in the May Valley neighborhood.
WCCFSC, along with the Wildfire Mitigation Program, is working to reduce fire hazards near homes and also on Richmond city-owned properties throughout May Valley and El Sobrante neighborhoods.
The Contra Costa County Wildfire Mitigation Program is funded through Measure X and works throughout Contra Costa County to reduce wildfire risk. Measure X is a countywide 20-year, half-cent sales tax increase approved by Contra Costa County voters in 2020.
Measure X funds a variety of fire prevention events and programs such as community chipping days, evacuation route clean-ups, dead tree removal, vegetation management, and fuel reduction, and Firewise USA, a national program helping neighbors protect their communities from wildfires.
Councilmember Soheila Bana, who is also president of the WCCFSC, said it's taken much longer than she expected to get crews out and get the work started.
"The months-long efforts of WCCFSC's connecting the City of Richmond with Measure X program mitigation services and then submitting residents's requests to them, we are finally receiving mitigation services in our area by Crew 12 from Measure X and also by their contractors," Bana said.
West Contra Costa Fire Safe Council was established in 2022 to provide education and foster wildfire prevention and fire safety within West Contra Costa County, working to help residents and businesses create defensible space to guard against wildfires such as the one that devastated an area of the Oakland Hills in 1991.
The Fire Safe Council also assists in planning and managing community wildfire preparedness in West Contra Costa, including areas that are classified as "very high fire hazard severity zones" by the state fire marshal.
"Using Measure X mitigation service for Richmond city-owned properties is really great because the city has never touched those properties before," Bana said.
At its September advisory board meeting, WCCFSC discussed other goals such as the use of sirens to inform residents of the need to evacuate, evacuation routes, how evacuations are implemented, and educating less mobile residents about evacuating voluntarily and proactively should an emergency arise.
For more information about WCCFSC, visit their website.
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