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Fire Preparedness

With summer comes the heat. Native plants, which were lush and blooming during the spring rainy season, go dormant and the Puente Hills turn golden.

Fire season is actually the time of year in which emergency responders are at a higher level of preparedness for fires. This is dictated when weather patterns are warm and dry, vegetation (fuels) are at a low moisture content point, and winds are strong. This season has expanded over the years and is typically May to January in our local area, if not year-round.

From CalFire’s recommendation of hardening homes to reducing the fuel load around structures, preparation from all angles is our collective best defense.

The Habitat Authority takes fire preparedness very seriously and has approached it from a multi-pronged approach over the years:

Ranger Services

Trained Rangers: The Habitat Authority contracts with another local government agency, the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA), to provide ranger services who are extensively trained wildland firefighters.

Fire Patrolling Units: During fire season the rangers patrol in fire patrol units capable of extinguishing fires and protecting structures. They carry approximately 200 gallons of water with foam and other firefighting apparatus. Extra 4th of July patrol is conducted as well.

MRCA Support System: The Habitat Authority also has at their disposal the support system from the MRCA fire operations which consist of many fire patrols, engines, water buffalos, compressed air foam units, as well as a 2,500-gallon water tender, a mobile command post, a mobile repeater, and other assorted equipment.

Multiagency Fire Fighting: Los Angeles County Fire Department and La Habra Heights Fire Department both respond to fires in the hills, with ranger assistance. Additionally, rangersmonitor and have radio communications with Fire and Sheriff’s Departments to help coordinate during an incident. In the event of an emergency, rangers would secure the trails and evacuate trail users for their safety. During fires, rangers can be incorporated into the incident command system.

Emergency Response Map: In 2009, in partnership with the Los Angeles County Fire Department, an Emergency Response Map was developed to assist fire fighters with providing pertinent information about the Puente Hills Preserve to be used at Incident Command, such as locations of drivable trails/roads, sensitive habitat, helipads and gates. These maps are periodically updated and have been provided to all local fire stations.

Additional Measures

Contributes $10,000+: The Habitat Authority contributes yearly to support local agency firefighting capabilities.

Fuel Modification: To date, annual fuel clearance for defensible space from structures has been conducted by the Habitat Authority.

Dead Tree Removal: When possible, the Habitat Authority has removed dead and flammable trees within the fuel modification zones.

Habitat Restoration: This, in part, involves removal of “flashy fuels” and replacement with less combustible native plants including coastal sage scrub species, coast live oak woodlands and California black walnut woodlands. The restoration to native plants and trees also enhances wildlife habitats for the hills and provides cover for the animals to live and thrive. This is a very costly program that was created and is overseen by the Habitat Authority, but primarily paid for by third parties. More information about these efforts can be found by clicking here.

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