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Kerry Hillis, Moraga Council Member Fire Preparedness

From episode: EPISODE 01 - Council Member Kerry Hillis, Town of Moraga

You've talked a bunch about fire safety as it relates to a community that has limited access to ways in and out. A cul-de-sac community, as you described it, is surrounded by open space, hills, and trees. What tips do you have for your residents or anybody regarding fire safety and preparing for the upcoming fire season? The Moraga-Orinda Fire District is great. and they are very active. You will see a significant difference between the clearance, and the vegetation clearance that's been achieved in Moraga and Orinda versus Lafayette. The difference is Lafayette isn't an MOFD, Lafayette has their fire service handled by ConFire. ConFire has different regulations. They haven't required as much clearance. We are required to do very similar levels of clearance to what, you know, my mom had to do with our cabin up in the Sierras for the last 30 years, where, you know, you have to clear debris. You have to cut limbs of trees up to six feet above the ground to prevent fire. So my advice is to, you know, to look to your fire district, to your fire department for what their requirements are. If they are not as forward-thinking as our fire district in terms of requiring them, do what you can to meet those requirements. In addition, just like you have to have an emergency go bag in the event of an earthquake that has supplies for your family, water, food, and potential clothing, sufficient to last for 72 hours, you should develop that because you never know. We have one, my wife knows where it is and our nanny knows where it is. I'm at work and if something happens, everyone knows the plan; we came close to that point two years back where we were at our other property and we saw the hill that was less than a quarter mile from our house. The hill that has the graffiti all over it. And I was at a business event across the state and my wife is sending me pictures of helicopters coming in and dropping flame hardened, like right outside of our master bedroom window. They were ready to go. We had walkie-talkies that were charged. We had our backpacks with our emergency supplies. We knew our evacuation routes to get in and out of town. It's not always the best idea to evacuate unless you hear that from first responders. Part of the reason for a community like ours is if everyone hit the road at the same time to get out of town. No one would go anywhere because it would be too crowded. Our fire chief, Chief Winokur has told us that our road system in Moraga is already insufficient to handle just the people we have here now. You have a mass casualty or catastrophic event and everyone gets on the road at the same time. Pay attention to law enforcement and public safety. We're also going to be funding evacuation study and conduct community outreach so that we can better inform our residents what group they're in when they need to get out of town and what other modifications need to be done to ensure that we can keep people safe. MOFD, has one of some of the best fire-building standards in terms of what plants are safe to plant in front of your house. They make residents and commercial properties be two feet from the property itself, whether or not you need to have sprinklers on your roof, on top of your roof, not inside your house so they can put out embers are things that are in our building codes These things are expensive, but can save lives by preparing in advance.

For more on the full episode including talk about development in Moraga and housing check out the full interview with Councilmember Hillis on our podcast hosted by Jared Asch

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