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Sonoma County Gazette
Firefighters stop Wildand Fire, Sonoma County

Safety First

May 26, 2017


By Darrin DeCarli, Gold Ridge Fire Battalion Chief

Spring has sprung and the grass is growing. With the abundance of rain that we have received this past winter, the grass/weeds are growing like we haven’t seen in quite some time. With this being said, it’s time to start preparing for wildfire season. While we may go about clearing our property of vegetation with the best of intentions, there are times where we need to consider if we are using the right “tools” for the job. The following are some helpful tips from Cal Fire as it relates to creating defensible space on your property or simply working in the yard:

Are you doing the right thing, the wrong way?

Are you doing the right thing the wrong way - for example, trying to eliminate the fire hazards around your home and in the process starting a wildland fire? Each year CAL FIRE responds to more than 1,600 fires started by Californians using equipment the wrong way.

Whether working to create a defensible space around your home, just mowing the lawn, or pulling your dirt bike over to the side of the road, if you live in a wildland area you need to use all equipment responsibly. Lawn mowers, weedeaters, chain saws, grinders, welders, tractors, and trimmers can all spark a wildland fire. Do your part, the right way, to keep your community fire safe.

Here’s how to do it the Right Way:

• Do all yard maintenance that requires a gas or electrical motor before 10 am, not in the heat of the day, or when the wind is blowing!

• Lawn mowers are designed to mow lawns. Never use lawn mowers in dry vegetation.

• Use a weed trimmer to cut down dry weeds and grass.

• Remove rocks in the area before you begin operating any equipment. A rock hidden in grass or weeds is enough to start a fire when struck by a metal blade.

• In wildland areas, spark arresters are required on all portable gasoline powered equipment including tractors, harvesters, chain saws, weedeaters, mowers, motorcycles, and All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs).

• Keep the exhaust system, spark arresters and mower in proper working order and free of carbon buildup. Use the recommended grade of fuel and don’t top off.

• Keep the engine free of oil and dust, and keep the mower free of flammable materials.

• In wildland areas, a permit may be required for grinding and welding operations, and spark shields may be required on equipment. Be sure to have 10 feet of clearance, a round point shovel, and a backpump water-type fire extinguisher ready to use.

• Hot exhaust pipes and mufflers can start fires you won’t even see, until it’s too late! Don’t pull off into dry grass or brush.

• Keep a cell phone nearby and call 911 immediately in case of a fire.

Additional information can be found at

Gold Ridge Fire District

June is the month for pancake breakfast. On Sunday June 4th, the Gold Ridge Firefighter’s Association will be hosting their annual pancake breakfast at the Twin Hills Station, 1690 Watertrough Rd, Sebastopol. The event will start at 7am and go until noon. Raffle tickets are available at the door for great prizes. The Hessel Volunteer Firefighter’s Association are hosting their annual pancake breakfast on Sunday June 11th. The breakfast will be located at 4500 Hessel Rd, Sebastopol and will start at 7:30 am finishing up at 11:30am. Raffle tickets are available at the door for great prizes. Come out and enjoy a great breakfast getting to know your neighbors and your firefighters.

Bodega Bay Fire

Recently, our duty crew was talking about our role in providing healthcare to our community. One of the crew presented a perspective in a way I found so profound that I asked him to write it up so I could share it. What follows are his words:

“We had a good discussion around the fire house table this morning, where all good discussions take place at the fire house. I am simply stating an observation from my point of view as a firefighter and sharing a perspective that has been stated before.

Until the day comes that both sides agree on what our model of health care looks like and it truly helps everyone in one way or another, 911 will be the closest we will ever come to Universal Health Care in our current operating system.

Yes, I am serious! If you really stop and think about it the 911 system is built for caring for everyone!

In the area that I work as a firefighter if you dial 911 within 3 to 15 minutes depending on your geographic area relative to the fire station a $500,000 fire engine and a $250,000 ambulance arrive in front of your house with a minimum of 3 highly trained people who have spent hundreds or thousands of hours in school and training and we are there for one purpose, to take of care of you!

We don’t care about your socioeconomic status, your race, religion, political affiliation, or any other number of things that society tells us we have to identify with.

We only have one goal at that point in time, and that is to provide you with the highest possible and most appropriate care that we can based on our protocols.

In a world of maybes, we are a guarantee, a guarantee that you will be listened to, treated with respect and compassion and not judged or undervalued because you can’t afford a certain policy with a specific company. A guarantee that the only reason we care about pre-existing conditions is so that we can give you the appropriate care. And a guarantee that regardless of your ability to pay we are going to use all of tools and training to what is best for you the patient!” ~Sean Grinnell, Fire Chief.

Graton Fire

Graton’s Finest cooking breakfast for 1,500 people at annual fundraiser.A Pancake Breakfast “Thank You!” – 1,500+ ServedOur 39th annual Graton Firefighters Association Pancake Breakfast was a huge success because of you, the community! Thank you to everyone that used the shuttle to alleviate parking at the new fire station. We served over 1,500 plates of pancakes, eggs, and sausage along with gallons of Roasters coffee, orange juice, Manzana apple juice, and milk. Everyone enjoyed tours of the REACH and Sheriff helicopters, fire engines, Sheriff’s SWAT armored vehicle, bomb squad truck, dive team trailer, search and rescue dogs, and incident command unit, CHP patrol car, and Sonoma Life Support Ambulance teaching hands-only CPR!Soon, everyone that won a raffle prize will be notified. A huge thank you goes to the local businesses in and around our community for donating over 200 raffle prizes to help support our fundraising cause. Thank you to all the family, friends, and Boy Scout Troop 20 who came and donated their time to help work at the breakfast.

The funds raised at the breakfast will go to support the firefighters, the new station, and the equipment used by the department.  Being that we are an all-volunteer fire department, we try to create an inviting atmosphere at the new fire house so volunteers are encouraged to hang out; thus improving our response times to the 600 medical aids, vehicle crashes, and fires in our community each year. Thank you again for your continued support and devotion in our endeavor of providing protection to life and property in our community... we couldn’t do it without you!

 Firefighter News


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