Are you ready for brushfire season? That is the question Golden Gate Fire District is posing to every resident within its response area.
Battalion Chief Bill Moyer hopes community members will join forces with Golden Gate firefighters, International Association of Fire Chiefs and the state Division of Forestry in a new national fire preparedness program, titled “Ready, Set, Go!”
As one of only nine fire districts in the United States to be selected to participate in the national pilot program, Golden Gate Fire officers and firefighters plan to emphasize essentials of brushfire preparedness in homes by meeting with local businesses, community civic associations, and individual homeowners to encourage everyone to have a personal action plan.
“Three years ago, in 2008, Brevard County lost close to 50 homes due to wildfires. We don’t want to see this happen here,” Moyer said from his office at Golden Gate Fire Station No. 73. “This month, we are meeting with Rotary clubs, Kiwanis clubs, and next month, we’re meeting with civic associations in Golden Gate Estates.”
According to Moyer, there are four principles included in the brushfire safety preparedness program.
“First, there’s house hardening. House hardening, in other words, is how to prepare your home before a brushfire, such as removing leaves from gutters, and removing debris from the eaves of the house,” he said. “Secondly, creating a defendable space around a home of 30 feet from the woods is important. Third, self-survival; if you are in your home and you can’t get out, you should know the best way to protect yourself and your family. Finally, know when to go, what to take with you, and where to go.”
Fire Chief Robert Metzger acknowledged the “Ready, Set, Go!” pilot program arrived just in time for a dry weather season, too.
“The reality is, everything we are reading in the last six months indicates we have been in the driest season on record for the past 80 years. We’re very concerned about wildland fires here,” said Metzger.
Planning ahead with other agencies is another educational tool of “Ready, Set, Go!”
“It works hand-in hand with other programs, including Firewise, to help us prepare with other agencies,” Metzger said.
Packing emergency supplies beforehand with a personal checklist before a brushfire or other emergency occurs will ensure a quicker escape for local residents.
The American Red Cross recommends including the following emergency supplies:
• Three-day supply of water (one gallon per person per day)
• Non-perishable food for all family members and pets (include a three-day supply)
• First-aid kit
• Flashlight, battery-powered radio and extra batteries
• An extra set of car keys, credit cards, cash, or traveler’s checks
• Sanitation supplies
• Extra eyeglasses or contact lenses
• Important family documents
• Map marked with evacuation routes
• Prescription or special medications
• Family photos or irreplaceable items
• Easily carried valuables
• Personal computers (information on hard drives and disks)
• Chargers, for cell phones and laptops
• Keep an old pair of shoes and a flashlight handy in case of evacuation at night
For more information regarding brushfire and emergency preparedness, and to schedule a “Ready, Set, Go!” informational meeting for your community association, church or organization, contact the Golden Gate Fire District at (239) 348-7540.