A new "Fire Danger Today" sign has been installed at the bottom of West Cutting Boulevard to alert residents about weather conditions that increase the danger of wildfires are present.
The sign, which is broken into color-coded segments ranging from low to extreme, indicates the current level of fire danger based on temperature, humidity, wind speed, and direction, helping residents understand when fire danger is high in their community.
Interim Fire Chief Michael Smith said the Fire Danger Sign is a visual notification of the state of possible fire conditions.
"It's important that people understand that the careless discarding of smoking materials or parking a vehicle with a hot exhaust system in an open space with dried vegetation might ignite a fire with devastating results," Smith said.
Installed this month, the fire danger sign is a project of the West Contra Costa Fire Safe Council and Richmond Fire Department, which also chose the location for the new sign along with input from the community.
Councilmember Sohiela Bana, also President of the West Contra Costa Fire Safe Council, said the signs will help residents understand when there is danger and when they need to take action during wildfire season.
"Today, the level is green, it's not dry, and so there's low fire danger. But when the sign is on red, the danger is high, and people should have their go bags by the door and be ready," Bana said. "Especially older people and the disabled who will need a little more time should there be an evacuation."
Fires are possible throughout the year in California, but the peak fire season in Northern California begins in June or July and runs through late October or November. In the East Bay, where dry brush and grass can become a hazard during hot, dry weather, "Red flag Warnings" are issued when weather conditions create an increased risk of a wildfire, and residents are asked not to barbecue or use tools that could create a spark.
Councilmember Bana said that when the fire danger signs indicate a high risk, it is not the time to use certain tools or start the barbecue.
"Residents should know that a spark from a saw could start a fire on certain days when it is hot and dry, and this is also not the time to be out there with the barbecue," Bana said. "It only takes one spark to start a fire.
Bana said a sign at Fire Station 63 on Valley View Road was the first installed, and additional signs will be placed at other locations throughout the city.
In addition to the signs, other fire prevention work currently being done includes crews out addressing dry bushes and weeds in specific areas of the community where fire concerns are the greatest.
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