Aug 26, 2019
By Tom Austin
Has it come to this, then? Oh summer, parting is such sweet sorrow. We now head into fall, or as we now call it, Fire Season. I don’t think I’m throwing out any spoilers here when I say people are scared. Heck, I’m scared. But out of that fear has come, this time, something positive. People are channeling fear into action. In Camp Meeker as well as around the county, I see work being done. Vegetation being cleared. Defensible space work is ongoing. It’s to the point where I don’t need to tell you any of this – you already know it. You’re probably way past me, some of you. If you’re not, fire preparation is the theme of this month’s Gazette, so read it cover to cover! There will be tons of useful information. In fact, there will be so much useful information that I will need to think for a minute until I can think of something to add that hasn’t already been covered.
Okay, I’ve got one. If you’re like me, you’ve had some unpleasant conversations about home insurance this year. You may find, like me, that your home insurance has doubled this year due to your insurance company (by which I mean the national behemoth issuing your policy and not to local insurance broker Open Door Insurance, who in my experience have always provided outstanding service, communication, and transparency) has decided that you, living in a forest as you do, are providing them too much risk and not enough profit opportunity. They have decided to go in a different direction – away from covering you. That is inconvenient at best and financially crippling at worst for you the homeowner, but you can be assured said insurance company behemoth has run the numbers. It’s what they do; their essential function in fact. This is one large factor underlying the near-seismic shifts in behavior regarding fire. PG&E, bless their pointy little hearts, has even gotten into the act with some proactive tree work, removing some very large and very dead Douglas Firs within Camp Meeker that they have judged a fire danger. Said PG&E will also be turning off power around the County (not sure if in Camp Meeker – but it’s a possibility) when risk of extreme fire events is high. This, all of this, is the new normal.
Okay, you might think: I’ve done my defensible space work. What next? I will gracefully elide the community organizing aspect of this for this column: this week’s Gazette is shot through with information on this aspect, and it has appeared in past and future columns in this space. This month, I will introduce a possibility for the rugged individualist in all of us. Defensible space work, as essential as it is, is a passive solution. You do the work and you hope. What would an active solution look like? An active solution would be the homeowner on his roof with the proverbial garden hose. That works for anyone brave and fit enough to get up on the roof instead of hightailing it out of there. It turns out that there is a way that might be better AND safer than the garden hose gambit. Check out www.frontlinewildfire.com to see what I am talking about.
This is a system offered by a company called Frontline Wildfire Defense Systems. Essentially, it is a system of smart sprinklers installed on your home by professionals. These sprinklers, when activated, will cover your home with a biodegradable firefighting foam, which will prevent any wind-blown embers that might alight on your home from starting your house ablaze. Having one of these systems installed might (emphasis: “might”) bring you lower insurance rates. Having said all that, I have no first-hand experience with the cost, quality, or performance of such a system – but I can assure I will be reading up on it.
One last item, just a teaser really: August 16 marked the first day of this year’s flow release into Dutch Bill Creek. For the past several years, when conditions allow, water is released into Dutch Bill Creek from storage tanks on the Alliance Redwoods property. This is done for ecological reasons, reasons I will go into in more detail next month, along with an accounting of the worthies responsible for this good work.
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