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Fire Safe Sonoma to launch new defensible space project for underserved residents

Fire Safe Sonoma received $500,000 in grant funding for a collaborative defensible space project. This groundbreaking project, set to launch early in 2024, will employ trained underserved workers with family sustaining wages to assess and create 0-30 ft of defensible space around 75 to 100 homes of underserved residents living in select areas of Sonoma County, at no cost to the resident.

The area(s) where this project will be deployed consists of high or very high fire severity zones and are areas considered underserved or priority areas by Sonoma County where residents are not eligible for free defensible space work by any other current fire prevention or mitigation project.

The project will be a collaboration between North Bay Jobs with Justice, the Resilience Force and Fire Safe Sonoma, bringing together a unique partnership resulting in a win-win project that will support both underserved workers, and underserved residents that are in need of defensible space fuels reduction work.

North Bay Jobs with Justice is developing the leadership of frontline immigrant and Indigenous farmworkers in Sonoma County to both improve their current jobs and get training to move into good jobs in the resilience economy. North Bay Jobs with Justice has an existing partnership with the Resilience Force and a cohort of 24 workers that have completed the Santa Rosa Junior College’s 6-week Fire Adapted Landscaping certificate program. This cohort is qualified and available to become Sonoma County's Fuels Reduction Crew dedicated to creating defensible space around homes.

The Resilience Force is a labor broker that provides labor for climate adaptation, disaster restoration and reconstruction in California, Louisiana and the Gulf South. Their mission is to train and deploy a nationwide workforce to do climate adaptation projects and natural disaster response at family sustaining wages. Through their partnership with North Bay Jobs with Justice they have relationships with hundreds of skilled farmers in California.

This groundbreaking project will be an important trial we hope will result in permanent fuels reduction crews able to address this need while also providing respectable wages to a vulnerable but vital workforce demographic in our County.

About Fire Safe Sonoma

Fire Safe Sonoma, formed in 1998, is Sonoma County’s countywide fire safe council and is part of the California Fire Safe Council. In addition to serving many local community groups within Sonoma County with wildfire risk reduction efforts, Fire Safe Sonoma is known for several “firsts” in Sonoma County. To-date, the community-based organization has mitigated wildfires with large-scale fuels reduction projects, created the first countywide chipper program, and the first countywide Community Wildfire Protection Plan.

The board of Fire Safe Sonoma is composed of members with over a century of expertise in wildland fire safety including retired, and active, fire chiefs, fire marshals, and a treasurer with a long history of work with non-profits who is an expert in business operations and finance. For more information, please visit: FireSafeSonoma.org.

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