Supervisors approve $1.5M in budget funding for fire preparedness projects

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The Yolo County Board of Supervisors approved the Office of Emergency Services’ recommendation to spend $1.5 million of state budget funding on fire preparedness projects at the Feb. 22 meeting.

Senator Bill Dodd was credited by Supervisor Don Saylor for securing the state funds in response to the damage caused in 2020 by the LNU fire.

The projects and dedicated funds are the result of the 2020 Greater Winters Area LNU Lightning Complex Fires Community Problem-Solving Project that Saylor, Winters Mayor Wade Cowan and Solano County Supervisor John Vasquez coordinated. Saylor and Vasquez then worked with Dodd who accounted for the funds in the state budget.

Office of Emergency Services Manager Dana Carey gave a short PowerPoint presentation on the process undertaken and their recommendations for where to best apply the funding.

Carey noted the LNU Fire in 2020 was the sixth major fire over the past seven years; mostly on the western border of Yolo County. Fuel reduction, siren alerting, warning systems, fire preparedness and mitigation efforts were presented as target areas.

OES’s recommended use of the $1.5 million funding identified needs for a siren system ($800K), chipper program ($120K), Grantline Road fire break/access ($175K), enhanced address signage ($55K), fuel (grass, wood, shrubs, trees) reduction ($350K) and the Winters Fire Safe Council eucalyptus tree removal program ($135K).

Carey said the state funds are expected to arrive from the State Office of Emergency Services in March in time to get a jump on the 2022 fire season.

After Carey’s presentation, members of the public were given the opportunity to provide public comment on the topic.

Bill Weisgerber, who identified himself as a retired fire chief, thanked Carey and her staff for their work on behalf of grant funding for the Yolo Fire Safe Council and the north fork Putah Creek Channel. As a retired fire chief, he said, “I can’t emphasize enough the importance of these types of vegetation management projects getting under way before an incident occurs.”

Sarah Johnson said she was affected by the 2020 LNU Fire and thanked the county for their work in this area, adding, “I really implore you to use every dollar that the community was fortunate to receive to address the high risk needs in the LNU-impacted areas.”

After public comment, the item was returned to the board. Supervisor Angel Barajas gave credit to Saylor for leading the charge and, in return, Saylor thanked Dodd and the residents of greater Winters for their participation and trust.

The item was moved to a vote by Saylor, seconded by Jim Provenza and unanimously approved.

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