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Firefighter News - January 2016


Firefighter News - January 2016

Preparing for El Niño

El Niño is the warming of ocean currents in the tropical Pacific Ocean. This warmer water increases air moisture and affects weather. When El Niño is active, there is a greater than normal probability of monsoon like rains along the Pacific Coast of California. These rains, if they develop, can result in small urban streams and washes overrunning their banks as well as regional and large scale flooding. 

What You Can Do 

Prepare your home and contents. Open drains and keep ditches and other water collection ways clear of leaves and debris. Clean your rain gutters of all leaves, debris, and dirt. Have any trees that appear weakened by drought inspected by an arborist. Have roof repairs made and other leaks fixed before it starts to rain.

Prepare emergency provisions and have an emergency evacuation plan in place for your family. Have a dry place to store storm supplies. Since electric power may be affected, store up plenty of flashlight batteries and if you are on a well or booster pump, store several gallons of bottled water.

Store “long life” non-refrigerated provisions. This includes emergency cooking equipment, food, water, and fresh batteries. Localized flooding, mud slides and downed trees may prevent you from moving about the community by automobile until public works and emergency services can mobilize and get roadways cleared.

If your property is low lying or is impacted by high runoff volumes, know where to find sandbags and other emergency provisions. Check with local emergency service agencies before you have an emergency and know where to tune in for emergency broadcasts and official information.

Consider flood insurance. Homeowner’s policies typically do not cover flood damage. Most flood policies require a 30 day waiting period. Make an itemized list of personal property, which includes clothing, furnishings, and valuables. Take photographs of your home, both inside and out, and store in a safe place. This will help an insurance adjuster to settle any claims and to help you prove uninsured losses.

Know the non-emergency number to use to reach your local public safety communications center. If you have a storm related problem and it is not a life threatening emergency or fire, you should use the dispatch center’s non-emergency line.

If you suspect a serious property threat or life safety problem, please dial 9-1-1.

Proper Disposal of  Ashes 

How do you dispose of your fireplace or woodstove ashes?  Do you use a metal ash can with a tight fitting lid?  An ash shovel?  A face mask?  Ash removal from a fireplace or woodstove is required maintenance. There are basic tools to assist with ash removal which can be found at your local hardware store.

Ash Removal Tools

ash bucket – metal with a tight fitting lid

ash shovel – a specialized tool or a metal trowel 

fire resistant gloves – help prevent accidental burns

disposal face mask – reduce chance of inhaling ash

Safety Precautions When Handling Ashes

treat all ashes as hot

wait at least 24 hours after a fire before removing ashes

do not add live embers to the ash bucket

do not add anything combustible to ash bucket

place lid over the ash bucket to reduce the possibility of oxygen reaching a live ember or smoldering ashes in the ash bucket

store the ash bucket (with ashes) in a well ventilated location as ashes may contain live coals (embers) from which carbon monoxide emits

do not place ash bucket (with ashes) next to anything combustible

pour a little water over ashes in ash bucket (think of properly extinguishing campfires), but do this in an outdoor setting in case of live embers or smoldering ashes

allow ash bucket to sit for a week before disposing of ashes.

Once ashes are stone cold, they can be bagged up and placed in the trash.  Or if you are a gardener, they can be sprinkled across garden beds or worked into compost bins.  Prevent your home and family from becoming a fire statistic.  With these ash disposal tips, you too, can stay safe during wood burning season.

Holiday Tree Disposal  

Thirty seconds is all it takes for a dry Christmas tree to be consumed by fire. Many people will leave their trees up through the New Year — but fire doesn’t take a holiday. The Sonoma County Fire Prevention Officers Association (FPO) urges everyone to dispose of their trees as soon as possible, once it begins to show signs of drying out. According to the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA), one-third of all Christmas tree fires occur in January. The first rule of tree disposal: Never put the tree or branches in a fireplace or wood burning stove! Sonoma County Waste Management has made it easy to recycle with three options:

1 There is no charge for county residents to put trees in your yard waste container and, on a limited number of days, your whole tree will be picked up at the curb

The tree MUST BE CUT TO FIT inside the container as trees sticking out of the container can interfere with the lifting arm on the truck. Many communities have whole tree collection. Visit or call 565-3375 to confirm the week of pick-up. Only un-flocked trees are accepted.

2. Call (707) 565-3333 for an appointment to have a non-profit pickup your tree.

Call ahead to schedule a pickup and confirm the dates available. The suggested donation for this service is $7 for trees less than 6 feet and $10 for larger trees. 

3.  Free drop-off locations throughout the county. 

There are dates for all communities on or call 565-3375. The dates continue through mid-January.

The longer Christmas trees are in the home, the more they dry out and increasingly become fire hazards. Removing the tree from your home and properly disposing of it as soon as possible will minimize the risk of a treasured holiday season becoming a tragic one. For more information on recycling, please contact 565-3375. The Sonoma County FPOs’ wish you a Happy and Safe Holiday Season!


Christmas Tree Farm

Thank you to everyone who came to our fire station to get a Christmas tree and support our volunteers. For the fifth year, we also brought in Noble and Nordman Fir trees from a sustainable farm in Oregon... They were so popular, we sold out! In addition, hundreds of people cut down their own trees. Most importantly, we appreciate your support to keep our tree farm sustainable. We look forward to seeing you next season!  

Toy Drive... Another Success

The 2015 Toy Drive was a fantastic success, thank you! Graton Fire was able to deliver presents to over 40 children, brightening their holidays.  We wish everyone could experience the joy we see when the fire engine pulls up and delivers your presents...  once again, thank you. A tremendous thank you also needs to go out to Andy’s Produce, Graton Community Club, Sebastopol Hardware, Exchange Bank, and Graton Post Office for being toy collection points in addition to cash donations from a number of residents to our toy drive. 


The 10th Annual Fire Department Bucket Brigade Blood Drive Challenge is happening in Healdsburg on Wednesday, January 13th from 2pm - 7pm. Location: Truck Bay - 601 Healdsburg Ave. This year, the goal is to reach a combined total of 10,000 blood donors throughout Sonoma, Lake and Mendocino county’s. Mike Bates, Commander-Division Chief for Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety, states, “First responders witness the devastation and trauma a person can experience with no warning. Doing our part with the Bucket Brigade Challenge ensures that these people and all in need of blood can have a healthy supply ready at all times .” All blood donors will receive a Bucket Brigade T-Shirt! The schedule your lifesaving appointment go to Special thanks to all the firefighters who fought the California fires this summer!

We are accepting applications for Reserve Firefighter. Community, Commitment, Success!