Pleasants Valley Fire Safe Council officially a Firewise Community

A sign marks a burned property as “unsafe” on Pleasants Valley Road after the LNU Lightning Complex fires, on Monday Sept. 7, 2020. (Robinson Kuntz/McNaughton Media)

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The LNU fire has left an indelible scorch mark in every Winters resident’s memory. In response to the devastation, the Pleasants Valley Fire Safe Council (PVFSC) was created and recently received its certification as a Firewise Community.

Essentially, a fire safety council — like the PVFSC — is a group of community members who come together to address fire risks in their area, have regular meetings to share information, concerns, ideas, observations and mitigate fire risks entirely.

The PVFSC area spans from I-80 to 505, Putah Creek and the Napa/Solano County line, which was part of the countryside that was ravaged by the LNU fire. In fact, it was the LNU fire that sparked this group’s formation which had its first meeting around a year and a half ago.

“I think the LNU changed everything because no fire in our history has been so devastating. It could have gone into our cities, impacted our greater communities and it destroyed our rural environment tremendously,” said PVFSC president David Stevens. “Three hundred and nine homes were lost, two 

lives directly attributed to the fire, those are pretty staggering numbers. To a lot of those folks who raise livestock out there or are equestrians, those animals are their family and it’s not something insignificant. To lose them was devastating because they were family members or their livelihood in some cases.”

A Fire Safe Council, however, is not a Firewise Community. The difference is, a Firewise Community is a designation granted by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and CALFIRE. To achieve the certification of a Firewise Community, a Fire Safe Council — or independent group — must form a board, conduct outreach to residents within its area, document volunteer hours, conduct continuous fire risk assessments and show the ongoing effort of the council to keep its area safe.

Once certified as a Firewise Community, it opens up opportunities to apply for grants from CALFIRE that wouldn’t be available otherwise.

“Really, Firewise Communities and Fire Safe Councils are independent from one another but very much run parallel in regard to things that come with it. It opens the door for obtaining grants and it opens the door for greater community education. But becoming Firewise, you demonstrate your community continues to be educated because it requires you to do work every year to show you demonstrate improvement within the community,” said Stevens. “Whether it’s work projects, education or meetings, it is a sustaining program and if you don’t demonstrate that continued effort to improve, then you would lose your Firewise recognition.”

The PVFSC meetings are held every second Monday of the month in-person or over Zoom at 6 p.m. One can get more information by visiting the PVFSC Facebook page, emailing the organization at pvfiresafecouncil@gmail.com or by reaching out to Rose Loveall at 707-888-5013 or Stevens at 707-999-1133.

The PVFSC will also be holding a family picnic on Aug. 8 starting at 6 p.m. at Soul Food Farm located at 6046 Pleasants Valley Rd., Vacaville, CA 95688.

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